Suicide or murder? Man's puzzling death inside police cell raises questions

Santa Junju. A post-mortem conducted at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital revealed that the father of three died due to asphyxia, a condition that arises when the body is deprived of oxygen.

When Santa Junju attended a birthday party hosted by a friend in Kizurini, Kilifi County  on January 11, that would be the last time his friends saw him alive.

That day, four people including two in police uniform arrived at the party venue and roughed up Junju, a disabled palm wine tapper.

"It was around 4pm when officers from Kizurini Police stormed the children's party. I was sitting next to him (Junju) when they arrested him. He was wearing a jacket and tie. They began strangling him with his tie until they broke the chair he was sitting on," said Mr Mongo Kiroto, a witness.

"There were four but only two were in uniform and had guns. We had to intervene since there were children present. They took the Junju aside and continued beating him up before taking him on a motorcycle to the police station," added Mr Kiroto.

A cousin, Mr Wilfred Mutengo, says he visited the station the following day (January 12 ) only to be informed that Junju had died. 

When he asked officers why he was arrested and what caused his death, he was told that his cousin had assaulted a police officer based at Kizurini Police Station. Later, a police report would rule his death a suicide. 

"We do not believe the allegations and we are demanding a proper investigation into this," said Mr Mutengo.

According to a police report, Junju died by suicide inside a police cell. Officers say they found him with a rope around his neck that was tied to the window grill.

Family and friends of the late Santa Junju at a press briefing at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mombasa.

The report says he was rushed to Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital on the morning of January 12, the same day the family was informed of his demise.

Now, his relatives want to know why they were informed of his demise hours later and only upon their inquiry into his wellbeing. They are also wondering why he had to be taken to a hospital all the way in Mombasa yet there are nearby health facilities in Kaloleni area.

A post-mortem conducted at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital revealed that the father of three died due to asphyxia, a condition that arises when the body is deprived of oxygen.

"Both his lungs were congested. His left shoulder was recorded to be bruised and his brain congested. His kidney and cardiovascular system were found to be normal. The cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging," the post-mortem report says.

However, his family, friends and a section of local human rights activists say they are not satisfied with the autopsy results and are calling for a probe into Junju’s death.

"This is the second case this year of a person alleged to have died by suicide inside a police cell. Another victim was said to have committed suicide using his underwear. There is need for investigations to reveal the truth," Haki Africa's Rapid Response Officer Mathias Shipeta said.

Junju will be buried on Saturday at his Malwani home in Kaloleni.
 
[email protected] 
 
 

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.