NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Mechanics and a section of traders from Nairobi’s Kirinyaga road on Sunday demanded the release of one of their colleagues who was shot during the recent chaos in downtown Nairobi.
They claim their colleague was shot accidentally by anti-riot police officers, who were deployed to quell the skirmishes on Thursday, which also left a police truck burnt and property worth thousands of shillings destroyed.
“He was not even part of the demonstrators, he was just running to escape from being hurt by those demonstrating when he was shot and seriously injured,” said Wilson Mwencha, who worked with the suspect.
He identified the suspect as John Wainaina, 44.
“Wainaina was such a humble person he was not demonstrating and he is not even known to be violent yet the police now say they want to charge him with robbery and burning of the police truck,” stated James Mwangi, another trader.
Mr Mwencha narrated that he was standing with the suspect at their garage when suddenly they heard gun shots and started to run away from the chaos.
“When I looked back, I realised he had fallen down. He did not stand up and when we went back, he was bleeding and told us he had been shot,” Mr Mwencha told Capital News at the Central Police station on Sunday.
“We immediately rushed him to a nearby hospital for first aid before he was transferred to the Kenyatta National Hospital where he was admitted,” he said.
When police learnt that there was a person admitted with gun shot wounds at the hospital, they went and guarded him until the following day when he was discharged and they immediately arrested him, he added.
“He is really suffering. He is undergoing a lot of pain because he has a fresh wound and yet they are locking him up,” another trader said.
The mechanics told Capital News that when they sought an explanation from Central divisional police chief Tito Kilonzi on why the man was arrested, they were told he was part of the demonstrators who had set ablaze a police lorry.
Capital News reliably learnt that other robbery charges had been preferred on the suspect, who is due to appear in court alongside other suspects arrested on that day, in the course of this week.
“Investigations are almost completed. He is being investigated for participating in burning the police lorry and other robbery offences,” a senior police officer privy to the ongoing investigations said.
Central police commander Mr Kilonzi was not immediately available for comment.
Calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.
A police truck was burnt down and dozens of public vehicles vandalized during the Thursday skirmishes ignited by mechanics and traders, when the man was shot.
The mechanics were fighting to reclaim a piece of land they allege has been grabbed by a private developer, who now wants to evict them.
The mechanics have been operating their businesses from the land in question and many of them said that they feared they may be rendered jobless if the private developer takes over the ground.
“We have been operating from here for over 20 years, we can not allow someone to come and claim this land belongs to him. Where will we operate from?” Johnson Ndolo, a mechanic who also runs a food kiosk at the site asked.
Lawyer Paul Muite who toured the site on Saturday addressed the mechanics and urged them to disregard the vacation notice issued to them by the private developer ‘because the owner of the land had failed to reclaim it within the 12-year period stipulated by law’.