Witness: Police killed my husband

September 2, 2008 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, September 2 – A witness at the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) broke down into tears Tuesday as she narrated how her husband was shot dead by the police at the height of the skirmishes.

Rose Gathoni Mathenge, a kiosk owner at Mishomoroni market in Kisauni recalled how she called her husband only for a stranger to answer the call with the sad news that he had been killed.

"My husband had gone to the shop to buy cigarettes but I did not see him alive again. When I telephoned him, a good Samaritan picked up the phone and informed me that my husband was dead and lying on the roadside," she told the inquiry.

She described how she rushed to the scene where she found her husband still bleeding from the neck where he had been shot.

She told the commission, her husband was shot by the police who were dispersing a group of looters who had broken into business premises.

“I do not understand why they killed him, he was not part of the looters,” she said and added that her kiosk was in fact among shops that had been broken into.

During questioning, lawyers representing the police department sought to differ with the allegations that the police were responsible for the killing.

But she insisted that he had been shot by the police and recalled seeing a bullet wound on her husband’s neck.

“Members of the public were only interested in looting. They were not armed. I still believe my husband was killed by the police,” she said and demanded compensation from the government.

She said since her husband’s death she has been unable to meet he financial obligations and wanted the commission to recommend that she gets reprieve from the State.

A senior police officer who has since been transferred to Nairobi earlier praised the work done by law enforcers during the skirmishes, saying that their actions had prevented an escalation of violence.

Wilfred Mbithi who was the Mombasa District police chief at the time said that the chaos could have degenerated into a major crisis had they not acted in time.

“It was becoming worse.  Members of some communities and their property were being targeted but we did our best to contain the crisis,” he said.

Mbithi said certain communities were victimised after President Mwai Kibaki appointed Kalonzo Musyoka as Vice President.

He revealed that 240 buildings belonging to a certain ethic group were destroyed in the district during the political violence.

He added: “One hundred and thirty six cases relating to gender violence were reported in three months at the Coast General Hospital’s recovery centre.”

He said Mombasa had been peaceful throughout the voting period but chaos erupted after the announcement of the presidential results and the subsequent appointment of Musyoka as VP.

The commission, which is chaired by Justice Philip Waki is in the Coast holding its final public hearings before they compile their report.

The commission is expected to hand in the findings to the President in a month’s time.


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