At least 30 people died from injuries inflicted by police officers between March and June this year, official data shows, pointing to persistence in cases of police brutality.
A survey by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) shows that the brutality was concentrated in 15 out of the 47 counties with Nairobi topping with 20 percent of the reported cases while Mombasa, Homa Bay, Kakamega and Laikipia tied at 15 percent each.
Ipoa directly links 16 of the reported cases or 53.3 percent to the enforcement of lockdowns to contain the spread of Covid-19. The rest of the cases stemmed out of altercation between police officers and civilians over various issues including domestic rows.
“They (police officers) are a group that has easy access to lethal weapons, for example the firearms. Therefore, at the heat of the moment, discharging a bullet is likely to cause fatality with a probability of over 90 percent,” said Ipoa chairperson Anne Makori.
The reported cases include an incident late last month when a police constable based in Igembe North in Meru County, shot his girlfriend six times allegedly after a quarrel.
The 22-year-old woman was admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital, after she was shot by David Nyamweya, her boyfriend.
In June, Duncan Ndiema, another police officer pleaded not guilty to the murder of 13-year-old Yasin Moyo. The youngster was shot as he stood on a balcony at his parents’ flat in Mathare on March 30. The boy was looking at officers patrolling the streets, to enforce a night-time curfew.
Also in Nairobi, constable Beckham Osoro Orwaru was charged, following public outcry, with the killing of 26-year old Karani Kinyiri in Mathare. The death occured while the officer was enforcing curfew orders.
Mr Osoro denied shooting Mr Kinyiri dead, in Mathare Area lV, Nairobi on April 13.
Separately, corporal Emmanuel Ambunya, who is attached to Kenyatta National Hospital Police Post, denied murdering a university student Carilton David Maina in Kibera slum.
The officer was accused of murdering the Leeds University student on December 22, 2018 at Laini Saba in Kibera. He was released after posting cash bail of Sh60,000.
An Administration Police (AP) officer Zaddock Ochuka Oyieka was charged in March with the murder of Daniel Mburu Wangari, a boda boda rider outside Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.
The rider was shot on February 18 following an argument over an unofficial Sh50 parking fee with security guards at the hospital. Mr Mburu had volunteered to rush a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, retrieved from a river in Korogocho slums to the hospital.
A survey last year by Ipoa blamed the rise of misconduct by police officers on among other issues, poor remuneration, negative public perception and lack of professionalism.
The survey also cited poor quality recruits-mostly rejects in other careers and poor working conditions characterised by high stress levels with no psychosocial support services.
In the performance report by Ipoa between July and December last year, the commission recommends recruitment of more police officers to ease work load especially for the AP officers who were noted to be thinly spread.
Further, the report recommended to the police to have a continuous sensitisation on adherence to the 6th Schedule of the National Police Service (NPS) Act 2011 on use of force during police operations.
“Even as we do that I believe that we should also address the root cause of incidents where officers are trigger happy,” Mrs Makori said.
The Ipoa boss added police officers should be taken for regular counselling besides training.
“Absolutely. Ipoa has consistently, in past reports, recommended need for counselling officers because some of the issues they handle are sensitive and emotionally draining.
Mrs Makori said most of the recommendations made by agency to the NPS have been implemented.
For instance, she said, the NPS recently launched a psycho-social support dubbed “Mwamko Mpya- Healing the Uniformed”. She said this was a result of Ipoa recommendations made in 2015.
Further, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i launched a national campaign to clean up police stations, which is yet another recommendation by Ipoa.
“Other recommendations may take longer to implement and Ipoa is cognisant of this fact. We have also recommended counselling and psychological support for traumatised officers. There is indication that the NPS will soon establish specialised psychosocial support units across the country,” she added.