A mother's anguish: Nakuru boy shot in anti-tax demos has 5 bullets lodged in his body


Police officers look on as anti-Finance Bill protesters demonstrate on the streets of Nakuru on June 25, 2024. The minor was shot at the entrance of a pharmacy.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

When Caroline Chepkoech counts her blessings, her son's survival is at the top of her list after he was allegedly shot with rubber bullets by police officers during the anti-tax protests in Nakuru on June 27.

The family says he was shot 11 times and is still dealing with the aftermath, with five rubber bullets still lodged in the Form One student's body.

In an interview with the Nation on Sunday, Chepkoech recounted the tragic events with a mixture of grief and anger, describing how she had sent her son to buy an inhaler from a pharmacy in Nakuru town on the fateful day.

Little did she know that her 14-year-old son would be caught up in the crossfire between police and protesters as tear gas was used to disperse the gathering crowd.

"It started like any other errand," Chepkoech said tearfully.

"I trusted he would be safe. But the chaos of the protest changed everything."

The boy was at the entrance to the pharmacy when chaos broke out and, seeing a police vehicle with officers nearby, he fell to the ground.

According to the family, a police officer shot him in the shoulder while he was on the ground, seriously wounding him and leaving him bleeding.

A bystander rushed to his aid and administered vital first aid before he was rushed to Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital, where he was treated and admitted for five days.

"When I received the news later that evening, I was devastated. A young boy approached my daughter, asking about her brother. It was then I learned of the shooting," she said during the interview at her home in Bondeni slums.

“Before leaving, he (her son) told me that he would go to various outlets and try to compare prices. I knew the situation in town but I had no one to send. He assured me that he would be safe, that he would just pick the inhaler and come back.”

When he took too long to return home, the mother did not think much of it, assuming that her son had decided to go for a walk and would return later.

At the hospital, Chepkoech was confronted with the reality of the extent of her son's injuries after the shooting.

"Seeing him in pain was unbearable. He told me he was lying on the ground when police fired at him. Some bullets are still inside him because surgery could endanger his life, according to doctors. He now has to live with the bullets," the woman said.

At home, the family's daily routine now revolves around caring for the boy's wounds, a task that requires changing the dressing every 24 hours.

To manage the cost, they have decided to buy the dressing from a local pharmacy, where they spend Sh300 every day.

The boy is also unable to attend school because of his injuries.

"He should be in school, studying. Now he's confined to his bed; he is in pain and unable to move freely. It's heart-breaking,” said the tearful mother as she demanded accountability from the police officers involved in the incident.

"My son was innocent, just running an errand for me," she said, "He had no part in the protest. They need to answer for what they did."

The mother demanded a thorough investigation and justice for her son.

The incident has left not only physical scars but also emotional trauma for the entire family.

Chepkoech expressed gratitude for the community support they have received.