Home Community News Police brutality that left Kenya’s informal settlement residents in pain after elections

Police brutality that left Kenya’s informal settlement residents in pain after elections

Story and Photos by Mary Mwendwa

One of the cartridges found in Kibera during police attacks

MANY KENYANS had grand expectations from the highly contested elections that were done on August 18, 2017.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga later claimed that the tallying of the votes was tampered with which created a lot of suspicion about the whole voting process.

In the middle of all these, the presidential results were later announced after one week and Uhuru Kenyatta declared the winner.

Kenya’s supreme court later ruled out after Raila Odinga filed a case citing irregularities by the election body (IEBC) in the tallying process. The court ordered another presidential election which is set to be 17th October 2017. The IEBC later settled for October 26, 2017.

“Kenya’s voting process is usually peaceful, but trouble starts when the tallying process begins. This has been witnessed in past elections.”

2017 elections were no different, the tallying witnessed massive irregularities that left even the most ordinary citizens especially from the opposition camp with rage.

Like three of Kenya’s four previous presidential elections, the August vote was marred by violence. In the period following the August 8 vote, Kenyan security forces used excessive force, including live ammunition, in opposition strongholds, leading to scores of people dead and injured. In the 2007-2008 election, 1,100 people were killed and 650,000 displaced.

Before the results were announced, there was already tension building up in areas known to be strong holds of the opposition. Kibera was one of such areas.

A cloud of fear and uncertainty hangs in the humble informal settlement of Kibera. Women and children are very terrified.

Editar Adhiambo, leader of Kibera Young Women Network from Sarangombe, a village in Kibera one of the biggest slums where massive support of the opposition exists narrates how they were denied their democratic right of rejecting the results.

Editah Adhiambo, an activist and a leader from Kibera young women network.

She says, “We voted peacefully but later on we started hearing and seeing on social media how flawed the voting process was, we were worried and lost confidence in the whole process.”

“Immediately Uhuru Kenyatta was announced the winner, what we thought was our right to hold peaceful demonstration turned out to be a tale of tears, misery and deaths among people here in Kibera.”

Adhiambo recalls how police raided people in their houses and used live bullets, tear gas and other weapons to cause havoc among the people.

“We were attacked mercilessly by police, our houses were broken into, our children were killed and above all nobody cared to protect the innocent citizens who wanted to exercise the right to peaceful demonstrations.”

Adhiambo who also conducts talking circles among women in the slums reveals shocking tales of how some women are now living with scars emotionally and physically.

“I have talked to some women here who now wet their beds at night, something that is really worrying. It means they have been affected and need some medical help. Also some women are now complaining that they can no longer be intimate with their partners because their private organs were injured by the police.”

“I strongly believe these attacks were targeted at finishing us as a community here, we have a right to choose who support and I don’t think its criminal to support Raila Odinga, it is something that one chooses.” She bitterly adds.

Benta Atieno is a worried woman, she is 60 and had stopped having her monthly periods. “Immediately we were attacked I started experiencing very heavy flows, I do not know what to do because I need money to go to a doctor and access my situation.” She sighs.

Kevin Otieno from Kiandaa in Kibera, vividly recalls how he was attacked in his house and his arm injured. He confides; “After the presidential results were announced, majority of people here were not pleased with the results and started protesting, it was a crazy situation and it looked like a battle field.”

Kevin otieno

“Police were searching for people in their houses and beating them mercilessly. I was sighted in my house when they stormed and started beating me. My hand was injured in the process as I tried to shield my head, they almost killed me. This happened as my family watched helplessly and terrified,” a worried Otieno explains.

Evidence of live bullets that were used are with some people in Kibera. Washika Mwalimu a resident of Olympic holds a cartridge during my interview with him. He says he collect them as evidence of how police unleashed brutality to people.

“We as Kibera people were not happy with the results, we knew they were tampered with and that’s why we took to the streets. Police were very much brutal here and we were not spared to even say anything.”

Washika mwalimu – holding a cartridge

“A stray bullet almost hit me during the police raids and I will live to tell a story. We are very afraid as people of Kibera, we don’t know what will happen next to us,” Mwalimu laments.

Tujipange African Media