NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20- When Esther Wangui spoke to her son Stephen Machurusi, he promised to make a call later because he was busy at work, unaware that would have been the last time.
The next call she received was rather disturbing. It was coming from her daughter Lilian Waringa, with sad news that Machurusi had been shot. No immediate details were given on his fate.
“I just started shaking,” she told Capital News during an interview at her rental home in Sunton area, within Kasarani, ahead of a postmortem on Machurusi’s body on Tuesday at the City Mortuary.
From a distance, she saw a large crowd milling around something; “could he be the one lying on the floor?” she thought to herself.
She then pushed through the crowd until she set her eyes on the lifeless body of her son, who had some white substance on her lips- which Capital News established that it was some glucose given to him by boda-boda operators, in a futile effort to save his life.
“I knelt down, screamed loudly and then lost my consciousness,” a teary Wangui recalled.
According to multiple witnesses and relatives, Machurusi was shot on the chest while on his knees and hands up, having surrendered.
Why my only son?
It is just one of the dozens of questions troubling Wangui, following the death of her last born, who was shot dead by police during protests over the poor state of the Kasarani-Mwiki road last week.
And she wonders; does the police officer who pulled the trigger has a child? Does he know the rule of law? Why did he or she use a live bullet on my child who was unarmed?
Wangui who would break into tears every now and then during the interview kept on asking the questions, hoping she can get answers.
Machurusi joins worrying statistics of hundreds of youths executed by police every year, more so those from poor backgrounds in the urban areas.
While reports by organisations fighting extra-judicial killings indicate those killed are merely suspected of engaging in crime, Machurusi’s case is different.
-I had planned a surprise party for him-
The 17-year-old boy died without knowing a secret her mother was holding after he managed to garner a C plus grade-enough to have him get a slot in an institution of higher learning.
Not even her father nor her siblings knew about it, Wangui said.
“I was planning a surprise party since I felt that he had performed very well,” Wangui whose voice has since turned hoarse due to crying said.
Her son died while she was still healing from the recent loss of her father.
“I don’t know what is happening in my life. I have been battling pain for losing a dad and now I have lost my only son,” she said.
“Police should not use live bullets on people who are protesting. My son was not even part of the group he was just caught up in the melee,” she said.
Though fear-stricken, those who spoke to Capital FM News on January 16 said they can positively identify the police officer who pulled the trigger.
The victim is said to have tripped and fallen 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 named, on this article said, for fear of victimization.
-Young Machurusi loved hip hop music-
Though they are yet to come to terms with Machurusi’s death, his memories have remained vivid and more so those of his love for hip hop music.
He was an ardent supporter of Khaligraph Jones alias Papa Jones, an influential Kenyan rapper, with a style that cuts across the intricacy of genres and eras with his music.
“Who will be rapping in the house for us?” she rhetorically asked.
Machurusi would have been the first child to pursue an education at the university level; “I had high hopes for big things in the future.”
They now want justice to be delivered and the officer-involved brought to book.
“My son did nothing wrong to warrant to die like that,” Peter Nandwa, the boy’s father said.
Even before justice can be served, Machurusi is set to be buried later this week in the family’s rural home in Molo, Nakuru County.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has since imitated a probe over the killing.