Kenyan family agonises over missing officer

September 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 -The family of a General Service Unit [GSU] officer who was attached to State House Mombasa is agonising over his whereabouts after he went missing a month ago.

Constable Jorim Odhiambo Abang\’a of Force Number 82367 was last seen on August 7, at about 9pm on Moi Avenue in Mombasa.

According to his wife Joselyn Urandu, the officer had left work that evening and had gone to an entertainment club with colleagues.

"They were walking back to State House and that is when they parted with a colleague with whom they had been drinking. That is the last trace we have been able to make," Ms Urandu told Capital News in an interview on Monday.

Quoting a colleague of her husband, the woman said "he did not go home that night and that is the last time he was seen. Even his housemate did not see him after that."

GSU officers who worked with the missing officer at State House Mombasa told his wife there were signs the man had planned to report to work the following morning, if the arrangement of his official uniform and shoes was anything to go by.

"They told me they found his clothes neatly ironed and polished shoes placed near the door. There were no signs he planned to fail to go to work the following day," she added.

"And even when I spoke to him earlier that evening, he was asking for my ID number which he wanted to use to fill a loan application which was found in the house.  He also wanted me to send him his original PIN which I did, but I was surprised when his phone went off the following day," she recalled.

Ms Urandu, a mother of one told Capital News she tried to contact authorities at State House Mombasa but no help has been forthcoming.

"I went there and was told to go to the police station and make a missing person report, despite doing that I have not received any help. They have not been able to help me trace my husband and it appears they are not even concerned," she said.

Capital News independently confirmed that the woman had formally reported the matter at the Central Police station in Mombasa and the case is under investigation.

On several occasions, the 27-year-old woman said she was told not to worry because her husband\’s case may one of the many where police officers just decide to go missing only to show up before expiry of 21 days just before they can be declared deserters.

If a police officer goes missing from his or her work station, authorities can only declare them deserters after 21 days.

In such a case, such an officer is liable to face disciplinary action which includes and is not limited to summary dismissal. Such persons can also be charged in a court of law.

But if one shows up just before the expiry of the stipulated period, authorities are allowed by law to give him or her audience to explain their whereabouts and if they find it necessary to punish him or her, it will be done without dismissal.

"That is what some of the senior officers in Mombasa wanted to imply, but I don\’t understand how my husband can desert work and fail even to communicate to his family members. This has never happened," she said.

"One of the officers was telling me that hawa vijana huwa wanapotea tu hivyo halafu wanarudi hapa ikikaribia siku ishirini ndio wasifutwe, labda hata huyo ni hivyo amefanya," she recalled.

She said one of the officer who worked with her husband in Mombasa has confided in her that her husband has already been dismissed for being absent without permission.

"He called me recently and informed me that they have even removed everything from my husband\’s house and locked them up in a store to create room for another occupant, it is so unfair because they are not cooperating with me to help me trace my husband," she said amid sobs.

She told Capital News that she was at one point referred to the GSU headquarters in Nairobi but no help has been forthcoming.

"Whenever I go there, they ask me to tell them what State House has said, they also say the matter is under investigation by the CID, they keep referring me from one office to another, I don\’t know what to do," she said.

Calls to the office of the General Service Unit Commandant William Saiya went unanswered and he did not pick calls we made to his cell phone.


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