Police, family differ on how ‘reformed’ Nakuru gang member died

Ken Omondi

Ken Omondi in an undated photo. 

Photo credit: Pool

"I have lost a son and a friend with whom I shared a lot of life," says Peter Okoth Oduor, Ken Omondi's father, who lives in Kaptembwo.

Mr Oduor notes that the loss of his son weighs heavily on his heart as his 18-month-old grandchild will now grow up without a father.

Ken, alias Kennito, had lived 29 years of his life before he was brutally killed by suspected gang members who attacked and beat him to death at 5pm on Sunday 27 May.

What follows is a heartbreaking account of a father, a wife and an infant losing a loved one. 

Mr Oduor recalls the last moments of his son's life: "Ken had gone with a friend to buy miraa from a local shop when two saloon cars and a motorbike carrying suspected gang members caught up with them. The men overpowered them and that's how my son died and his friend was seriously injured. Sunday at 4pm was the last time I saw my son alive.

According to his family, Ken died in a fight between suspected Mauki and Wa Tz gang members in Kaptembwo.

They add that their son was targeted because he had reformed and was part of the community policing group that helped the police maintain law and order in Kaptembwo.

"My son did not deserve such a painful death," laments Mr Oduor.

He remembers the good times he had with Ken, the trips to Philadelphia Primary to drop him off at school, and the blissful moment when his son made him a grandfather. 

When asked what his son did for a living, Mr Oduor admits that Ken did not go to high school.

Nevertheless, he was actively involved in mjengo (construction) work to make ends meet.

One of Ken's friends, John*, describes him as a talented footballer who even organised community football tournaments, most recently the one organised by Nakuru County in March 2023, where he mobilised some youths to participate. 

"I want justice for him. I have lost a close friend. A lot of people may have a bad image of him. But they should know that Kennito was a father, a husband and a son who was robbed of his time in this world," John recalls.

Nakuru West Sub-County Police Commander Edwin Otieno has a different view.

He says Ken's death was the result of mob justice.

He says members of the public suspected Ken and others of being involved in criminal activities and were looking for them.

"When the public saw the two in the Nyamakoroto building in Shabaab, tempers flared and they started beating up the boys," says Mr Otieno.

He adds that by the time police officers rushed to the scene, Ken was already dead, his lifeless body lying on the ground.

The other suspect, Mr Otieno says, escaped with serious injuries but was later arrested and taken to Nakuru Level Five Hospital for treatment.

"We appeal to the public not to take the law into their own hands. They should report criminal cases so that they can be investigated and appropriate action taken," he said.

He, however, acknowledged that there is a community policing programme in the area that has helped bring peace to Kaptembwo.

"Before the incident, the area was peaceful. We have been working with the community through community policing," he adds.

This story was first published on nakuru.mtaawangu.co.ke