NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Gone too soon. But why was he suffocated? And who were the men who identified themselves as detectives when they picked him up?
It is a puzzle in the death of Basil Saka, a young Kawangware man with no criminal record according to friends, relatives and even some police within neighbouring stations.
He was picked up by men in civilian clothes but who identified themselves as detectives but five days later, his mother Lilian Maloba found his body at the City Mortuary.
The body was taken there in a police car from Ruiru, according to mortuary attendants.
“I was told by the mortuary attendants that his death was sudden from what they were informed by police from Ruiru,” Maloba said during an interview with Capital FM News.
The family is now demanding justice for Saka.
“Why a sudden death as indicated in the mortuary? Sudden from what?” a trail of questions run through Maloba’s mind.
And though the process of getting justice may be slow and painful, she wants it delivered now or even tomorrow.
“I just want justice. Are these people human? Do they have children?” she wondered.
– Call from a friend –
It was on October 8 at about 3pm when Saka received a call from a person known to him.
He was with friends some few kilometres from his parents one-bedroom house.
“The friend wanted to know where he was, which he willingly said,” a friend who sought anonymity and spent the last minutes with the deceased told Capital FM News.
Minutes later, a Subaru with tinted windows arrived.
“He was picked and even before we could enquire where they were taking him and for what, the car had left. We were of course scared at that time and unfortunately, no one thought of taking the car’s number plate,” he said.
It was the last time Saka was seen alive.
His lifeless body was to be later found at the City Mortuary by his restless mother, who trusted her conscience.
“After looking for him in all hospitals, something inside told me he was dead. Though a painful thought, I knew my son was dead. And while everyone else rushed to even more hospitals for a search, I decided to go to the City Mortuary,” a teary Maloba narrated.
“His body did not have any physical injury. The clothes were clean.”
According to mortuary records, his body was taken to City Mortuary Tuesday morning on October 9. An analysis by the Chief Government Pathologist later showed he died of suffocation.
The body was taken to the mortuary just hours after he was picked by the men who identified themselves as detectives.
Saka was a supervisor in ongoing rehabilitation of feeder roads within Kawangware.
“He was a good man,” Noel Amukoya, his auntie said. “We have more questions than answers.”
Already, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has picked up the case for further investigations.
Is Saka among the worrying statistics of enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killings or not?
Kenya will next year submit its implementation report for the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The country will also undergo a review before the UN Committee against Torture, known as CAT.
IPOA is currently probing more than 240 cases of police killings reported within a span of 12 months.
Also being investigated are 86 cases where security agencies are being accused of inflicting serious injuries on victims.
According to IMLU statistics, 822 people died from police bullets between 2013 and June 2018.
Of these, 58 happened between January and June this year.
According to the statistics, there are 44 cases of summary executions between January and June.
During a recent consultative forum on extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances, United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner-Kenya Senior Human Rights advisor Marcella Favretto called on authorities to come out openly and condemn any act that infringes on rights of the people by ensuring perpetrators are brought to book.
“Relatives have a right, as victims themselves, to know the truth about the circumstances of any enforced disappearances, the whereabouts of their loved ones, the progress and results of the investigation and ultimately the fate of the disappeared person. Relatives or other individuals who speak out on violations should be protected against threats and reprisals,” she said.
“Kenya is not short of institutions and laws to prevent abuse in the context of security operations and end impunity.”
The scale of allegations, she says are supported by meticulous data collection by Kenyan human rights actors, “including at the grassroots level, leave no doubt that the matter is urgent and requires special attention by the government.”