Man shot during 2017 campaign rally left with Sh4.6m hospital bill
At a first glance, one may think all is fine with David Okoth.
A closer look as he walks around, however, reveals a pale shadow of a once vibrant youth, now grounded after a stray bullet hit him in the pelvis, back in 2017, when a political meeting turned chaotic.
Okoth, 21, who hails from Nyamunda Village in Wiga Ward, Suna West Sub-County, was then an ardent supporter of Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
He was caught up in a bloody confrontation between Mr Obado’s supporters and those of Ochillo Ayacko for the Migori gubernatorial seat.
ODM leaders, led by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, were on their way to Posta Grounds for a political rally that seemed to have rubbed Mr Obado’s supporters the wrong way, resulting in a confrontation.
The team had also come to open a parallel ODM office and to campaign for Mr Ayacko when angry Obado supporters stormed the venue, pelting the rival faction with stones.
Governor Joho’s aide was shot in the ensuing melee.
According to Mr Okoth, security personnel guarding the politicians fired several shots into the air in an attempt to repulse the crowd when a stray bullet hit him in the left thigh.
“Chaos erupted at Posta Grounds when the governor and his supporters arrived. I was hit by a stray bullet as I scampered for safety and fell to the ground,” he told the Nation.
The bullet penetrated his pelvic joint and got stuck. Since then he has had to bear with the pain, visiting several hospitals for treatment. But the situation only seems to worsen.
Mr Okoth was rushed to Migori County Referral Hospital for treatment but the bullet was lodged so deep in a delicate position that doctors referred him to the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.
He was later taken to Jaramogi Oginga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu for specialised treatment after X-ray scans revealed severe damage to the pelvis.
His worst nightmare came when doctors at Jaramogi Oginga Teaching and Referral Hospital revealed to him that the gunpowder had destroyed his genitals.
“I shared the shocking news with my wife but, instead, she fled back to her parents’ home. It took the intervention of a close friend, an MCA, to convince her to return,” he said.
Then came the quest for finance to enable him to get surgery at the Kenyatta National Hospital where he got admitted.
After four weeks in the wards, doctors examined his condition and recommended corrective surgery in India for Sh4.6 million.
Devastated and with nowhere to turn to, Mr Okoth says he approached Governor Obado for financial assistance.
“I approached Governor Obado who promised to cater for my treatment expenses but on the day I was scheduled for surgery at Kenyatta, the Governor’s calls were not going through. I later learnt he had been arrested by EACC detectives,” he said.
Efforts to reach Governor Obado on his position regarding Mr Okoth’s fate were fruitless as he could not be reached on phone. He also did not respond to text messages seeking his clarification on the matter.
His treatment is scheduled for this week and, with limited options, his friends have set up a WhatsApp group to mobilise funds.
His 62-year-old grandfather, Mzee Okombo Nyaguda, says the family has depleted its meagre resources while seeking treatment and is now turning to well-wishers.
“Life has been challenging for the entire family. Although unemployed, he was the breadwinner for the entire family. We have nowhere to turn to and time is due for his treatment,” he said.
“Owing to our poor background, the amount required is too big for us to raise and we are appealing to well-wishers to come to our aid.”
So much pain
Charles Arunda, a neighbour and a close friend of Mr Okoth, told the Nation that the young man often writhes in pain during chilly weather.
“I have been closely monitoring his situation and often take him for treatment in Migori whenever he runs short of medication. During the cold weather, he feels so much pain that he even wails,” Mr Arunda said.
Mr Okoth left for treatment in India on November 3 after his grandfather sold a piece of his land.
According to Mr Okoth’s wife Mary Akinyi, the WhatsApp group contribution only yielded Sh8,000, which only catered for his flight from Kisumu to Nairobi.
“My grandfather sold part of his Shamba to carter for part of his treatment in India. We are still far much behind and anyone who can come to our aid is welcome,” Ms Akinyi told the Nation.