Police brutality: Death toll in Kisumu anti-government protests reaches 16


Azimio leader Raila Odinga lays flowers during the candle light vigil in memory of slain protesters from recent anti-government protests in Nairobi, on July 26, 2023. 

Photo credit: Simon Maina | AFP

At least 16 people died in Kisumu as a result of police brutality during the anti-government protests that began on 7 July.

The bodies have been taken to various morgues in the county.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) Director of Nursing, Ms Teresa Okiri, said 11 bodies were currently being kept at the facility's morgue.

Other bodies are at the Kisumu County Hospital and Chiga Health Facility morgues in the county.

"Some of the people were brought here when they were already dead while others died while undergoing treatment," Ms Okiri said, adding that the hospital had initially preserved 14 bodies but three had already been released for burial.

Ms Okiri said more than 30 victims of police brutality had been brought to the regional health facility for treatment amid the chaos.

Monument to be built in Kisumu to remember victims of police brutality

Most of the victims, she said, had sustained gunshot wounds, while others were injured after being hit with blunt objects.

"Ten deaths were due to gunshot wounds while four had blunt injuries on different parts of their bodies," Ms Okiri said.

She said some of the injured had been discharged, while 16 others were still receiving treatment in various wards.

At the hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU), William Amulele is unconscious and fighting for his life after being brutally beaten by uniformed police officers.

According to witnesses, the officers broke into their home in Nyalenda, broke down the doors and beat him and his brother Brian Oniang'o with buttons before leaving them to die.

The two were quickly rushed to JOOTRH and admitted to intensive care, but sadly Brian died from his injuries on 27 July.

Also still recovering at the facility is 19-year-old Raphael Onyango Geng'o, who still has a bullet lodged in his hip.

A first year student at the Siaya Institute of Technology, he said he was attacked after finding himself in the middle of the running battles in Kondele.

As he tried to flee the scene, he was shot in the right hip. "I also fell and broke the injured leg," said Raphael, adding that health experts had said that removing the bullet would cause further damage.

"I was advised to wait until my broken leg heals so that the doctors can advise me on what to do next," Raphael said.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro Ochieng is lucky to be alive after undergoing successful surgery to remove nine bullets lodged in his chest.

Fidel was successfully discharged from the facility on Friday afternoon.

The 19-year-old had eight bullets lodged in his chest and another in his arm, doctors said on 21 July.

 He had claimed that the police had attacked him and a group of friends while they were playing cards in Nyamasaria.

As he was wheeled into the theatre, Fidel kept begging for help from anyone who passed by his bed.

Please help me, I'm in pain, someone please take these bullets out of my chest, I don't want to die," the 19-year-old said.

But on Friday, a week after a successful operation and with his hospital fees waived, Fidel was among the patients discharged from the facility in stable condition.

For the first time, Fidel was able to smile and speak calmly to his family and friends, the excruciating pain is gone and he hopes to join his classmates soon.

"I am alive today, all thanks to God, when I was brought to this facility on Thursday, I never thought I would make it alive, a friend of mine I was with had succumbed to the gunshot wounds a few hours before my surgery," said Fidel.

"The pain has been diminishing since the operation, the health workers have also been taking care of my needs, giving me painkillers and other medicines," he said from his hospital bed in the JOOTRH male ward.

On Friday afternoon, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo led a group of Nyanza MPs in prayers for the dead and the injured at the health facility.

The MPs visited the injured in the wards and assured their families and friends that they would see that justice was done.

According to Dr Amollo, most of the injured had sustained gunshot wounds, while others had broken legs, hands and skulls caused by blunt objects.

"As Members of Parliament from this region, we decided to hold our prayers at this hospital compound, which we started by visiting the injured, we were also able to raise some funds to help the affected families," said Dr Amollo.

"From their statements, which we have recorded and will depose to, we have confirmed that the injuries were all caused by the police," he added.

Dr Amollo said the victims who had gunshot wounds were either shot in the head, abdomen, particularly on the left side, and in the pelvic area.

He claimed that the wounded areas were a clear indication that the police officers were not aiming to incapacitate but were after the lives of innocent citizens.

The MP has also expressed concern that there is a possibility that a militia was deployed in Kisumu to cause harm.

"From what we have seen and heard, on the 18th of July 2023, a truck with registration number KCG 151R was intercepted in Busia and after scanning, it was confirmed that the truck was carrying small arms and funny uniforms.

"We want answers as to where these weapons were taken, who they were used against and who was behind the idea," he said.

Also present was Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma, who said they were in the process of filing a constitutional petition on behalf of the victims of police brutality against Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome.

He also revealed that they are also planning to file a case at the International Criminal Court over the killings.

The MP said they would also submit other petitions to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.

"We will also be submitting a petition to the African Union to investigate police brutality and another to the East African Court of Justice, we have lawyers across the country who are currently doing the paperwork," Mr Kaluma said.

Meanwhile, Mbita Constituency MP Millie Odhiambo said the constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to picket and demonstrate.