Nakuru 'Confirm' shooting survivor: No one wanted to help me

Ruth Waithera (left) with her her mother Teresa Wanjiku.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

The day started well for Ruth Waithera, until later that evening when she decided to visit a salon 500 metres from her home in Lake View estate in Nakuru to get her hair done.

Ms Waithera, 18, was planning to return to school the next morning and wanted to look good.

On her way to the salon, the Form Four student at Flamingo Secondary School said, she saw a group of people gathered a short distance away but ignored them, thinking it was a campaign-related meeting, and continued with her journey. 

But a commotion ensued later, and like everyone else, she decided to check out what was happening.

It is that curiosity that almost led to her killing, as she was shot in the melee that followed.

Speaking to Nation.Africa after leaving hospital, Ms Waithera said she heard gunshots and saw blood oozing from her hand.

Ruth Waithera.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Some minutes later, she learnt that police officers were chasing members of the Confirm gang and had shot her and Whitney Atieno, 19, who later succumbed as she underwent treatment at Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital.

It later emerged that the same bullet that hit Ms Atieno exited and hit Ms Waithera in her left hand.

Ms Atieno was already at the salon waiting to be served.

“As I was passing by she was standing at the door of the salon, also watching what was happening outside. I did not know her too well, but I had seen her a few times and I knew we lived in the same estate,” she said.

"I saw her bleeding and writhing in pain after she was shot. That is before I noticed that I had also been shot. I tried helping her to get up, but I felt numbness in my left hand, and upon looking closely I saw that I was bleeding and tried seeking help."

She said she asked for help from shop attendants but they refused, prompting her to run to a crowd that had just gathered. But no one was willing to help there either.

Luckily, one of her friends heading home from the market came to her rescue. She rushed her to her home, where her father stopped the bleeding by tying a piece of cloth on the wound before taking her to a nearby chemist.

The chemist said the wound was serious, and Ms Waithera was advised to go to Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital. 

"It was at the hospital that I learnt that my neighbour who had been shot dead was called Whitney,” said Ms Waithera, as she recalled that people were running away from her as she pleaded for help.

Doctors told her that her left hand had been badly injured and needed special treatment, and that she would be staying in the hospital for the next few weeks.

Ms Waithera was discharged after two weeks, but she now wonders whether she will ever get justice after being shot by people who were supposed to protect her.

She had been in hospital nursing injuries while her classmates were going on with their studies as they prepared for their final exams at the end of the year.

Ms Waithera now wants speedy investigations into the incident, saying the officer who pulled the trigger needs to be arrested as someone died in the shooting and she was left with serious injuries.

“Whitney and I were in different wards and that same night I was informed by a guard that she had passed on. It was painful. We just want justice. Police are supposed to protect us, not to kill,” she said.

Her mother, Ms Teresia Wanjiku, said she had just returned from work at 4pm when her daughter requested Sh150 to plait her hair, promising to come back home early.

She later received a call from a Good Samaritan, informing her that her firstborn daughter had been shot and had been rushed to hospital.

Upon arriving at the hospital, she met her daughter at the emergency entrance as she was being transferred to the ward for admission as she needed an urgent operation.

The two weeks Ms Waithera was in the hospital were not easy for Ms Wanjiku. She had to leave her work to take care of her daughter in the hospital.

The single mother of two said that seeing her daughter lying helplessly on the hospital bed while her classmates were in school was traumatising.

Ms Wanjiku now hopes that her daughter will get justice, saying that she had been left with injuries and her studies had been disrupted.

“We have recorded our statements with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, but nothing has been done,” she said.

“We hope whoever did this will be held accountable. My daughter is just at home. I don't know when she will report to school.”