Rights groups want officers involved in shooting of varsity students interdicted

Kisumu protests

Kisumu residents light bonfires on Jomo Kenyatta Highway during anti-government protests on March 20, 2023. A third-year Maseno University student was shot dead during the protests.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega| Nation Media Group

Human Rights groups are calling for the interdiction of police officers involved in the shooting of Maseno University students during the Monday, March 20 anti-government protests.

Haki Africa and Winam Justice Centre in Kisumu now want police officers who were engaging the students during the demonstrations to step aside and allow for thorough investigations into their conduct.

Mr Hussein Khalid, Executive Director of Haki Africa, and Ms Fatuma Wambui of Winam Justice Centre allege malice in the conduct of the police over the matter.

“It is wrong for police to engage protestors in this manner. We are urging IPOA and the internal affairs unit of the National Police Service to move swiftly and ensure police officers involved are suspended from work to pave way for investigations,” said Mr Khalid.

He claimed there are some family members of the victims already receiving threats over the matter.

“We would like to remind the police that they are operating under a regime that has pledged to shun extra-judicial killings and end police excesses. We have lost a life and the post-mortem confirmed that the bullet was fired through the neck meaning there was no doubt in the intentions of the person [who fired the shot],” said Mr Khalid.

Mr William Mayenga, a third-year English Literature student at Maseno University fell to a single bullet wound on his neck during a protest a few meters from the university’s main gate.

According to a police report, William, was shot in the neck after protesters invaded Maseno police line.

He was pronounced dead on arrival at Coptic Hospital.

Police said protestors, who included students, had invaded Maseno police line during the demonstrations, prompting the officers to use live bullets to disperse the rowdy youth.

A police report says the demonstrators vandalised at least 10 houses at Maseno Police line, but students claim they only turned violent after one of them was shot dead.

“We are not impressed by what transpired. Those whose mandate is to protect us are the ones who are shooting, killing and injuring innocent Kenyans,” said Ms Wambui.

The two spoke moments after visiting two casualties of the Monday demonstrations who were admitted with gunshot wounds at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) in Kisumu.

The two are a Computer Science Student at Maseno University who was shot on the left elbow while studying in the hostel, and a Form Four student at Bar Korumba Secondary School.

“He felt some sharp pain on his left arm and blood started oozing from his body. He then raised an alarm calling for help and that is when his colleagues rushed to rescue him after he was hit by a stray bullet,” said Mr Wambui.

He was later rushed to a hospital in Maseno and later to JOOTRH where he was operated on and the bullet removed. He revealed that the hospital management still has the bullet retrieved as they wait for police investigation and forensic examination.

The secondary student had gone to refill a gas cylinder when he was arrested by police.

He was later released but not before he was beaten by the officers using a baton, a police helmet and the butt of the rifle.

“When they finally released me, I heard them shoot only to feel some pain on my right arm, I fell down and was helped by rioters,” said the 17-year-old.