Witnesses recount Kenya suburb killings

March 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 15  – It is now emerging that inaccurate information provided to the police may have led to the shooting of seven taxi drivers in Kawangware last week.

According to a witness living in the area, motorcycle operators sought the help of the police after claiming that they were being targeted by members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

He pointed out that the plan was to settle a score between the taxi drivers and the motorcycle operators there.

“When the situation grew a bit heated, police officers suddenly appeared and started firing killing seven people,” the witness recalled.

The witness said that the motorcycle operators were charging a meagre Sh50 fee to transport passengers compared to the Sh300 levied by the cab drivers.

“Before the shooting, there was a feud between the cab drivers and the boda boda operators,” he said. “The cab drivers wanted the motorcycle operators to move to a different location so that their business is not affected.”

He pointed out that due to this, taxi operators sought to eject motorcycle operators from their base of operation in a bid to continue sustaining themselves.

A taxi driver in the region however contradicted the police report on what had actually transpired.

“Those who died were not the Mungiki as previously stated or gangsters. They were innocent family men,” he said.

He stated that some of the people who were gunned down were actually very close to him and that they had been together for the better part of the day.

“We spent the day with them until we parted ways in the evening,” he stated. “The one who was 50 years old was my best friend and his car is just near here (he said pointing to the abandoned cab). There was no way he could have been a member of the Mungiki.”

Meanwhile, survivors of the incident described the killings as extra-judicial.

A survivor of the shooting said that it was done in a deliberate manner intended to intimidate.

Capital News caught up with him and he described his ordeal.

“When my colleague and I realised that the number of gunshots fired were very many, we knew that our lives were in grave danger,” he stated.

“He asked me whether he could fit in the space I was hiding in under the lorry and I told him no.  So he ran off and that is when he was shot in the stomach,” he stated.

According to the surviving taxi driver, the shooting was as a result of a false report by motorcycle operators.

“When I come from under the vehicle, I found a gate which was unlocked. When I tried to pass through that gate, the motorcycle operators called to the policemen that one of them (Mungiki) was still surviving and he was trying to run away.”

“I decided that if they were to shoot me, they would do so while I tried to escape, so I jumped over the fence and hid in the tall grass next to it,” he narrated. “So they systematically began looking for me while destroying whatever was in their path.”

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights stressed the need for the officers implicated to be charged as soon as possible.

Vice Chairman Hassan Omar Hassan stated that this will ensure that justice prevails and that such an incident does not recur.

Mr Hassan said that increasing cases of extra judicial killings in the country are worrying since innocent Kenyans are continuing to lose their lives in the hands of the police.

The human rights body has began independent investigations into the matter.


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