Rex Masai, who was shot during the anti-tax demonstrations.
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Seven days of rage declared over fatal shooting of anti-tax protester

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Rex Masai, who was shot during the anti-tax demonstrations.
Photo credit: Pool

He was an obedient, disciplined young man with a bright future. But Rex Kanyeki Masai’s life was snuffed out by the pull of a trigger on Thursday evening.

His family describes Rex as a dependable, affable son and provider. The void the 29-year-old has left, his mother Gillian Munyao says, will never be filled.

His father knew him as a happy soul, kind, loving and a person of few words. 

“We have lost a treasure,” the elderly man said.

At a result of the death, young people who this week brought nearly 20 towns to a standstill in anti-tax protests, vowed to press harder for their voice to be heard, announcing “seven days of rage”.

“Whenever I was low, I called him and he would come. I have lost a very disciplined son,” the teary mother of four said of her firstborn. 

Rex was in the company of his friend when he died. Ms Munyao said he was from work when the bullet hit him. Rex worked at a casino in Nairobi and was in town to run some errands, his mother said.

He was running away from the choking fumes of the teargas when a police officer shot him, said the distraught mother.

She said Rex was at Kenya National Archives when a teargas canister was lobbed nearby. He and many others scampered for safety.
Independent verifications of the spot of the incident from crowd-sourced content revealed that he was hit on Mama Ngina Street – just meters away.

Rex trained as an architect. He worked at the casino while waiting to transition to architecture. 

According to the pathologist’s report, Rex was shot in the thigh and died of excess bleeding.

He died on the day thousands of young people took to the streets to protest the Finance Bill, 2024.

The protests were recorded in Nyeri, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Isiolo, Kisii, Nanyuki, Kilifi, Garissa, Thika, Kakamega, Nairobi, Meru, Kericho, Kirinyaga, Mombasa, Embu, Machakos and Migori.

Amnesty International said 200 people were injured in Nairobi alone, with 50 others being referred for specialised treatment.

They ranged from soft tissue injuries and inhalation of tear gas, the human rights organisation said. 

Five, according to the report, suffered rubber bullet injuries and wounds as a result of being hit by tear gas canisters and batons . It added that six people were hit by cars while running away from police.

“There is confirmation of live shootings verified by the presence of spent cartridges,” the report reads.

As of nightfall, at least 35 people had been arrested across the country.

A report by the Law Society of Kenya, Kenya Medical Association, Defenders Coalition, Independent Medical Legal Unit and Amnesty International observed that the those on the streets were picketing peacefully.

“We commend the thousands of protesters...for picketing peacefully, exhibiting restraint and decorum despite provocation by police, who used tear gas as well as water cannons in the capital,” reads the report.

Opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leaders yesterday called for the resignation of Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome and Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei over “state-instigated violence against unarmed protesters who took on the government over proposals in the Finance Bill, 2024”.

Ms Munyao, accompanied by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, addresses journalists at City Mortuary.

Photo credit: Boniface Bogita | Nation Media Group

Azimio co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka asked Director of Public Prosecutions Renson Ingonga to file a case against Mr Koome, Mr Bungei and their juniors “for their role in the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrators”.

Many Kenyans, rights organisations and independent agencies blamed police for violently suppressing largely peaceful protests, particularly in Nairobi. 

Ms Hanifa Adan, one of the organisers told her troops to stand down at 8:19pm on Thursday.

“Retreat, that is extremely dangerous,” she posted on X. 

Ms Adan explained that she had been informed that some of the protesters were heading to State House.

“Please, do not head to State House. I’m begging you,” she posted.

But some claimed that the group that was on its way to State House was made up of hired goons.

“Those protesting in the dark aren’t with us,” Boniface Mwangi, a key figure in mobilising the #RejectFinanceBill2024 protests posted on X.

As the sun went down, the streets of Nairobi witnessed chaotic scenes –including looting and lighting of bonfires.

“The chaos in the CBD is state-orchestrated. It’s the government trying to tarnish a peaceful movement with state-sponsored criminality. If you’re in CBD, and you were part of the peaceful #RejectFinanceBill2024, go home!” Mwangi posted at 8:05pm.

Rules were laid down way before the D-day. The protesters shared tactics and tips of staying safe and avoiding aggression by the police.

Videos were shared of youthful revellers dancing to music on Moi Avenue. 

While at the City Mortuary, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna condemned police for using excessive force on protesters. Haki Africa Director, Hussein Khalid, agreed with the senator. 

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya decried “a pattern of violence by security forces”, adding that the incidents were not isolated.

They opposition leaders cited the killing of Kenyans during the protests against the high cost of living last year. 

“It is evident that there is a problem with our security officers. Not long ago, 75 people died because police officers opted to fire live bullets into peaceful crowds. Despite the publicly recorded crimes, the murders are yet to be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice,” Mr Muysoka said.

The coalition urged Kenyans to recall MPs who voted for the Finance Bill.

“They are dishonourable. The 204 MPs and the 30 absentee cowards should prepare to go home.”

Additional reporting by Mercy Simiyu