Morticians from across the country are now demanding answers from the Inspector General of Police Mr Japheth Koome following his claims that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition was hiring bodies from some mortuaries to prove the extent of police brutality during anti-government protests.
According to Mr Koome, some senior citizens colluded with some mortuary attendants to ‘bury’ bodies before inviting the media to ‘Paint a picture of excessive use of force by the police during the demonstrations’.
The statements made by Mr Koome at the National Police College Kiganjo in Nyeri continue to attract criticism from various stakeholders who accuse him of being insensitive to the families that lost their loved ones during the demonstrations.
One such group is the morticians who were painted as being accomplices to the alleged crime.
But the Morticians and Allied Professionals Association of Kenya (MAPAKe), have expressed displeasure with the statements by Mr Koome, challenging him to table evidence to back his claims.
According to Mr Felix Odhiambo, the secretary of the mortician's body, the mortuary technicians are governed by ethics, chiefly among them being, respect and confidentiality of the deceased and respect for the loss, feelings, and the right of the bereaved to mourn their loved ones in peace.
“Mortuary Technicians are no longer rogue, careless, dirty, drunk, and reckless uneducated individuals, they operate within and observe the laws of Kenya in all our practice. The office of the Inspector General is such a respected office to even attempt to lower it to such unimaginable actions,” said Mr Odhiambo.
Mr Odhiambo condemned the statement made by Mr Koome maintaining that no Mortuary Technician in Kenya can attempt to commit such a crime.
“We demand that the Inspector General of Police furnish both Kenya Health Professions Oversight Authority and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board and the mortuary facilities, the particulars of those implicated for investigation and if found culpable, necessary disciplinary actions taken against them,” said Mr Odhiambo.
While stating that they work closely with the police in their day-to-day operations, the morticians’ association Chairman Mr Elkana Mwinani demanded that the IG withdraws his remarks against the facilities and its morgue attendants as he put it in his statement.
“Mortuary practitioners serve all Kenyans without caring about their tribe, race, class, political alignment, or religion. It is therefore very unfair for the IG to try and tag our profession along or into matters we are less concerned with,” said Mr Mwinani.
The sentiments are shared by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o who was shocked by what he termed careless and insensitive utterances from Mr Koome.
“We join the rest of Kenyans and our leader Raila Odinga in condemning Mr Koome who instead of apologising to the nation over the disappointing unprofessionalism in the police service, is dancing on the graves of the victims killed by his officers during demonstrations against the high cost of living,” said Prof Nyong’o.
He stated that it is on record that Kisumu County bore the brunt of the Police brutality asking the IG to stop mocking the families of those killed or maimed during the protests.
“The Inspector General of Police must stop politicizing grave security issues like the murder of innocent people, which borders on genocide and ethnic cleansing,” said the Governor.
He pointed out that two credible non-state actors- The Law Society of Kenya and Amnesty International have conducted a survey and confirmed that police killed 24 people during the anti-government protests in Kisumu and Kisii counties, 16 of these deaths occurred in Kisumu.
In a statement, Mr Nyong’o stated that many innocent people were pulled from their houses and killed in cold blood.
In Kisumu County alone, 107 people assaulted by police officers were treated at different hospitals across the county. Many of them are still in hospital with bullet wounds.
He invited Mr Koome to visit the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital and Mortuary to see for himself and confirm if indeed these are rented bodies.
“One of these patients is a schoolchild shot nine times by Koome’s boys. We invite Koome to visit the JOOTRH and study the post-mortem reports of those killed during the demonstrations. They had either bullet holes or blunt object (Rungu) trauma,” said the Kisumu County boss.
The governor demanded an apology from the Inspector General of police asking him to recant his insensitive and barbaric statement in totality.