'The day I almost died at the hands of police officers'

Simon Maina in Thuita village.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

It was on July 30 when Mr Simon Maina, 35, believes 12 police officers were set to lynch him in his home village if Gitundu in Murang'a County – but he survived.

He was beaten using clubs and gun butts, and kicked, leaving him with compound fractures on his left hand, sprained legs and bruises all over his body.

Mr Maina said the officers beat him up in turns for about one hour "and by the time they were through with me, I was hanging between the dead and the living with numbness that I felt would eventually kill me". 

Naftaly Kariuki and his wife Joyce inspect their son Simon Maina's hand at their home in Thuita village, Murang'a County, on September 18, 2023.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

“I was trimming the fence of my father's compound in the company of a friend when the station's police Land Cruiser pulled near us. Our home is near a feeder road. The officers jumped out and one shouted mnyama ndiye huyu (this is the animal),” he recalls.

He says the officers appeared to have come specifically for him as they did not attack his friend.

"Within a few seconds, I was down and screaming as I struggled to cover the whole of my body using my two palms...the blows were raining from all angles," he said.

He says he asked why they were beating him up "and in the painful gasps, I heard one say that I was the notorious criminal who had terrorised the society for months."

Mr Maina says he knew that his survival lay in screaming harder to attract villagers "but being on a Sunday, many of the village elders were at church and the few youths that remained behind could not dare come to my rescue".

He says that his friend ran away fearing for his life.

Mr Maina says there reached a moment that he became impatient at the pace at which his death was approaching "and I started begging the officers to just shoot me dead".

He says he was in great pain, when the officers stopped beating him up. 

Simon Maina shows x-rays of broken bones in his hand in the village of Thuita.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

"As if on command, they paused the beatings and started interrogating me...It was when I furnished them with forthright answers that they appeared disappointed," he said.

“One of the officers admitted to others that mine was a case of mistaken identity, adding that they were acting on a description that the man that they wanted was of my body build and wore a sweater similar to mine".

He says the officers retreated to their vehicle and consulted in low tones.

"They were arguing on whether to arrest me to cover up the beatings… Some argued that in my state, they would be told to take me to hospital [and] that was incriminating," he narrated.

“One other suggested that I be shot dead and be taken to the mortuary but another said there was a witness who had run away and would complicate the execution incident".

"I was attempting to rise up and run but I couldn't. My body appeared glued to the earth by pain...distressing pain that had made me relieve myself in my trousers".

"I now know how it feels to witness your own life being bargained for."

The consultations ended with a consensus that "I be left to face whatever fate but be vigilant at the police station not to record the incident in the occurrence book".

After the officers left the scene, three neighbours emerged from the bushes where they were hiding and carried him into his compound.

"They laid me under a macadamia tree shade...I could not speak. I used sign language...at around 2.30pm my parents and my wife came from church and found me moaning under the tree," he says.

The neighbours narrated what had happened and a motorcycle rider was sought to ferry Mr Maina to hospital.

"I had to first be taken to the same police station to get an introductory letter to a health facility so as to be treated as a victim of a criminal attack...the officers refused to write me the letter," he said.

But seeing that his condition was getting worse, they agreed to give him an (Occurrence Book) OB number.

He was then put in a taxi and ferried to Murang'a Level Five Hospital where medical examination showed he had suffered a fracture, sprained legs two broken fingers.

The report also indicated that he had dental pain as well as painful bruises on his body.

The doctor noted that the medical report was supposed to be captured in a police P3 form that ascertains degree of injuries from accidents and criminal attacks, a form the officers refused to grant him.

He was discharged from hospital after three days "and I have been nursing my injuries here at home waiting for God's justice since I have no ability to take these officers head on for attempting to kill me".

He says his wife has since left him after he lost his ability to be the breadwinner.

"I have a wife and two children. Being a class 8 graduate who pursued masonry course, with my disability now I cannot provide for them. My elderly parents cannot afford to provide for us," he said.

His parents, Mr Naftari Kariuki and Mrs Joyce Waigumo said their son has never been arrested for any offence and has never been suspected of being an outlaw.

"It pains us to see the government that we voted for attempting to murder my son for no justifiable reason and launching [an] intimidation drive so as to defeat justice," said Mr Kariuki.

Mr Maina added that some of the officers sent a neighbour to him "demanding that I take Sh2,000 to them so that they can drop criminal charges against me".

He said the officers had taken with them the machete he was using to trim the fence "now saying it was [an] exhibit to identify me as an armed village criminal who managed to escape the police operation".

“This is only a trick to silence me from pursuing justice".

Mathioya Deputy County Commissioner Mr Kiplagat Tarus said, "I am surprised since this incident was not reported to the security seniors".

“This is a serious allegation and how it never reached us from the police station needs investigation."

Mathioya Directorate of Criminal Investigations Officer (DCI) Muriungi Muriithi said it is a “serious incident that was suspiciously concealed from our attention...I am commencing a follow up immediately".

He added, "I will personally record the victim's statement and have the P3 form issued to him and those incriminated in the allegations be made to account for their behaviour."