NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Stephen Machurusi, the 17-year-old boy killed on Wednesday during protests over the poor state of Kasarani-Mwiki road was shot dead while on his knees.
The revelation was made by multiple sources and relatives, pointing to what could as well be another case of an extra-judicial killing.
Though fear-stricken, those who spoke to Capital FM News said they can positively identify the police officer who pulled the trigger.
The victim is said to have tripped and fell while escaping from the anti-riot officers who were charging towards a crowd.
Unlike his counterparts who were don in anti-riot gear, the witnesses said the killer cop, based in Sunton Police Post in Kasarani was on civilian clothes.
“He fell down as people were escaping and despite surrendering, he was shot on his chest,” a Matatu operator who did not want to be mentioned for fear of victimization told Capital FM News.
While the majority of those interviewed only gave a physical description of the officer, others simply identified him as “Baite.”
Who is the officer?
Capital FM News crew found Machurusi’s emotionally anguished sister Lilian Waringa at her mother’s rental home, about 3 kilometres from where her brother, the last born in the family of three, breathed his last.
Her distraught mother, who lost her only son, was too emotional to utter a word.
Waringa is certain that his brother was not part of the agitated youths who were protesting since he had left home for Garden City, where he was working before joining the university later in the year.
Machurusi completed his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) last year, where he managed to score a C plus.
“Why did they shoot him on the chest? Why not in the leg? Or at least in the hand?” a visibly sad Waringa wondered.
“My brother cannot join in protesting, yet he only came here in December,” she said intimating that Machurusi had schooled in Nakuru through both primary and secondary education.
Waringa said her brother had delayed reporting to his workstation after he realized the prevailing tension between police and public service vehicle operators, mostly youthful men.
There are no public vehicles that have been operating around his neigbourhood. One had to walk for kilometres to get to the Thika Superhighway and get means of transport.
-Given glucose to save his life-
Police left Machurusi lying in a pool of blood, which was oozing from his back.
A team of boda-boda operators who naively thought glucose would help save his life, as they seek medical help.
They carried him to a nearby health clinic, about 300 metres from where he was shot, that declined to offer treatment leave alone first aid, “since the situation was complicated.”
As the push and pull over the victim’s admission ensured, Machurusi died.
In protest, the youths placed his body on the tarmac for hours later dumping it at Sunton Police Post, where the family members recorded a statement and took it to Nairobi’s City Mortuary.
“He is a young boy, why use a live bullet while dealing with people demanding their constitutional rights,” Geoffrey Maingi, a resident wondered.
The family and friends of Machurusi are calling on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to launch a probe over the “unnecessary death” and bring the officer involved to book.
While Machurusi family is yet to know when they will lay to rest their son, another man is receiving treatment, after he was hit by a bullet, that pieced through his wrist during the protests.
We found Joseph Okwaya at Jekam Medical centre, and though stable, he is still shocked over Wednesday’s event.
“I was leaving work when I decided to pass by the church and pray. But I was caught in the melee, and before I knew what was happening, I saw blood coming off my hand,” he told Capital News. “I was not protesting. I am a family man.”
But how did all this start?
The protests started on Monday over the poor state of Kasarani-Mwiki highway, which due to crater-like potholes and huge sections with no tarmac, has remained impassable.
Not even teargas, live bullets or water cannons could stop the angry residents from expressing their disgust.
Along the stretch, financial institutions and small businesses have remained closed for the four days. Businesses were counting loses running into millions of shillings.
The Mwiki-Kasarani route has 320 buses, which make at least Sh9,000 profit per day but they were all pulled out of public service as operators protested the poor state of the road linking Mwiki to Thika Superhighway.
“I have undergone unimaginable loss during the four days, but it is worthwhile. We will not get fatigued until the road is fixed, since I have been using even more cash for service,” Paul Muigai, a Matatu owner said.
Onesmus Kinyanjui, a driver, said bus operators too are taxpayers and deserve better roads.
“Imagine we are usually stuck for more than an hour at a distance of five minutes to Mwiki shopping centre,” he said.
Residents have equally been frustrated as they have been often forced to dig dip into their pockets as transport fee varies from Sh100 to Sh150, for a distance of a much less amount.
“We will until this road is fixed. We support the protest,” an aged man, identified as Mwangi said, as he rushed to get to Superhighway and grab a car to Nairobi Central Business District.
The government has since agreed to repair the road.
The protests over the poor condition of the Mwiki-Kasarani road have in recent years became an annual event, residents terming the situation as unacceptable.
Initially, the area legislator Mercy Gakuya claimed the protests were political to the dismay of the residents.