Innocent boys or criminals? Police clash with locals on shooting of 2 Mathare teens
On Christmas day, Peter Irungu and Brian Mung’alu, both 18, were winding down the evening outside Good Samaritan children’s home in Mathare with friends when four officers in civilian clothes picked them up.
Witnesses claim that two of the boys were taken to Amana petrol station in Pangani and shot dead in cold blood.
“The civilian-clothed officers well known within our community took four boys and later released two. They then took Irungu and Mung’alu to Amana and shot them. The place has witnessed the killings of many youths in the slums,” said one of the sources who sought anonymity.
The bodies were later collected by uniformed officers and are lying at the City Mortuary with the family is planning a post-mortem for Tuesday.
Nairobi Police Boss Philip Ndolo has, however, refuted the claims saying the only incident that happened on Christmas day in Nairobi was a shootout between police officers and thugs.
“There was a shootout within Pangani after two members of the public were robbed by three gunmen. They were shot dead and a pistol with nine rounds of ammunition recovered,” said Ndolo.
He added, “The money that was stolen was also recovered and that was the only incident reported at Pangani of people who were killed.”
The incident has shocked locals in Mathare who now complain in silence after their plans to demonstrate against the police was thwarted by General Service Unit (GSU) officers who stopped them.
Mr Daudi Bokea who witnessed the incident said that the officers quickly shot the two and hurriedly left the area.
“They were killed in a very ruthless manner it is not fair at all,” he said.
Ms Mercy Mburu the official in charge of the children’s home said that the police did not give any explanation when she went to report the matter at Pangani Police Station on Thursday.
According to her, the two boys had just cleared high school and had been living with her since they were young.
“I have never been called to their schools because of an indiscipline case. They were just relaxing with other boys after a day of celebrations at the home. May be it’s a case of mistaken identity,” said Ms Mburu.
Wilfred Olal who is a founder of Dandora Justice Centre said the police should stop killing innocent youth in the informal settlements.
“If the boys had committed a crime they could have been arrested and taken to court. This habit of killing people anyhow especially in the slums is uncalled for,” he charged.
Ms Mburu said that the matter had been reported to Pangani police station and they only hope it will be investigated and the offending officers brought to book.
“We demand to be told why the police killed the two boys because they don’t even have mobile phones and have never engaged in any form of criminal activities,” she said.
According to a report released in July this year by Human Rights Watch, since August 2018, police have shot dead, apparently unlawfully, at least 21 men and boys whom they alleged were criminals in Nairobi’s Dandora and Mathare neighborhoods alone.
The report says rights activists in those neighborhoods believe that based on the cases they know about and those reported in the media, police have unlawfully killed many more in the past year.
It further adds that extrajudicial killings point to a broader problem of police using excessive, unlawful force in the name of maintaining law and order in Nairobi’s informal settlements and failing to comply with the law in ensuring all police killings are reported, investigated, and those responsible for unlawful killings are prosecuted.
Under Kenyan and international law, the police should only intentionally use lethal force when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life.