NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1 – The body of Evans Odhiambo was the fifth to be examined by pathologists at the City Mortuary on Wednesday, in an exercise witnessed by officials from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).
This reporter could not immediately identify it since all the five bodies had gunshot wounds until he was guided by a mortuary attendant.
“Yule mwenye ako na risasi saba? (The one with 7 gunshot wounds?)” the attendant, who did not give his name asked.
There were ladies and men; all laying cold on a slab in Nairobi’s largest public mortuary.
“Even the lady was shot? What did she do?” the reporter asked the morgue attendant who only gave a weird gaze before leaving room.
The mortuary receives the bodies from relatives, police and most recently, from ‘unknown people’ like in the case of Odhiambo.
Records indicate that his body was brought by unknown people and that he was found with 7 gunshot wounds all pumped at close range.
Who are the faceless individuals? Where did they get his body? Who killed him?—these are some of the pertinent questions IPOA officials said they will be seeking to get answers to in their investigation.
Statistics compiled by IPOA show that up to 18 young people, mainly men have been killed by police in the past week, raising serious concerns about extra judicial killings, which Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has often denied.
A myriad of queries that family and those who value human rights continues to ask, Odhiambo, they said, did not deserve to die.
A 3-month-old foetus is growing in his wife Eveline Atieno’s womb but the 7 gunshots have denied them a husband, father and breadwinner.
“I just want to confirm that my husband is no more,” a teary Atieno told Capital FM News outside the mortuary after she was barred from entering.
Odhiambo, a mechanic based at Grogan area on Kirinyaga road in downtown, Nairobi, had left his place of work for home on Friday, October 26 late in the evening, when he was reportedly hit by a stray bullet and later helped by good Samaritans to a nearby clinic in Mathare.
His rental home is in Mathare North Area 2, and he was shot just meters away from his house, according to his wife.
Having alighted a public service vehicle a few kilometres away, Odhiambo just like any other day was walking home when he encountered police officers chasing robbers and was hit by a stray bullet. He was shot in the right upper hip.
A good Samaritan, riding a motorcycle rushed him to Mathare North Health Centre where he was briefly attended to stop bleeding.
But there are no records to indicate that he was attended there despite two officials confirming that they saw him.
“He was first taken to Room 8 and then 6…he was here,” a health officer, who equally did not want to be named said.
The health centre is said to have advised that he be taken to Mama Lucy Hospital for specialized treatment, but while relatives waited for a vehicle to transfer him, police in two vehicles are said to have arrived in the company of a robbery victim, who did not single out Odhiambo as one of the robbers, but police still took him away.
“The lady said Odhiambo was not among the thugs who had stolen from her. She said they were three, but he was not among them,” an emotionally wrecked Atieno told Capital News, outside the City Mortuary.
Police officers on civilian clothes alighted with guns pointed on Ochieng, his wife and the neighbour.
“He has our gun. He must return it,” they roared “while asking him to get out of the stretcher and start walking.”
His wife still recalls in vivid details how “he was crying pleading with them that he was not a thug. We all tried to inform them that he had been shot by a stray bullet while heading home from work.”
“He was calling my name and asking me to tell the police who he is,” she said and then broke down while holding her bump as if in pain.
By this time, Odhiambo had been bundled in the boot of the Probox.
That was the last time his wife said she saw him alive, with a single bullet to the hip, but his body at the mortuary had six more.
Lobbyists who went to a clinic where he was first attended before police took him away, were not successful in getting any medical records.
That begs the question, why are they concealing this information? Where did the records disappear to? Why and who are they fearing?
His neighbour, who sought anonymity fearing for his life, said he accompanied Atieno to the health facility where they found him on a stretcher.
“He was not bleeding at this time since they had put some bandage on the wound,” the neighbour narrated.
His employer too and colleagues are shaken.
“He was brought to me some five years ago and he has remained a polite and honest man. I believe this is an innocent man killed,” his employer said.
All his widow Atieno wants justice delivered.
“I really don’t know what to do. A human has a right to life. There is no need of killing an innocent person for no reason whatsoever,” she said.
Expectant Atieno has vowed to remain strong for her 3-month-old unborn baby but won’t relent until justice is served.
“We used to share dinner together. His last meal is still on the plate. What will I do?” she posed, this time peeping through the door of City mortuary, to try to see whether he can see the body of her husband.
Senior local police officers did not want to comment about the incident.
“Hii case imewasha moto. (this case has lit the fire),” an area officer who did not want to be named for fear of victimization told Capital FM News.
He did not expound what he meant by it “has lit fire.”
“We have had incidents where police have to fatally injure a suspect if his life is in danger, but this case is different,” he added.
While IPOA has picked up the case for a thorough probe, some human rights organizations are doing a parallel investigation, to complement their work—all in pursuit of justice.
In this case, Odhiambo who was already wounded and not armed, why was he killed?
Under Section 25(1) of IPOA Act, the authority is mandated to investigate any death or serious injury including death or serious injury while in Police custody, which are the result of Police action or were caused by members of the Service while on duty.
Upon such an incident, police are required by Section 25(2) of the Act to, “take all necessary steps to secure evidence which may be relevant for the investigation, including pictorial and written evidence, and shall in writing notify the Authority, and supply it with the evidence and all other facts relevant to the matter, including, if available, the names and contact details of all persons who may be able to assist the Authority should it decide to conduct an investigation.”
IPOA is yet to conclude investigations of 243 killings caused by police in the last 12 months.
Also, being investigated are 86 cases where security agencies are being accused of inflicting serious injuries on victims.