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President Uhuru Apologises As Family Mourns 13 year old Featured

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has apologized to Kenyans for excesses by security officers in some parts of the country during implementation of the dusk-to-dawn curfew which kicked off on Friday.

The Head of State conveyed the apology during a virtual meeting with two Kenyans who have recovered coronavirus .

 

“I apologize to all Kenyans for excesses that happened during implementation of the curfew. I want to assure you, that if we work together and understand that this problem needs all of us, we will overcome,” he said.

Since the first day of implementation of the curfew on Friday, Kenyans from various parts of the country were caught up in running battles as police officers deployed used unreasonable force to effect the the night curfew order.

Police officers in various parts of the country were caught on camera brutalizing members of the public hours before and after the 7pm to 5am curfew declared by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus came to effect.

 

 

 Just past midnight Tuesday, on Kenya’s fourth night of a coronavirus curfew, the country’s covid-19 death toll stood at one, but the toll of an accompanying police crackdown ticked up to two.

That’s when Yassin Hussein Moyo, 13, bled to death.

He had been standing on his third-floor balcony in a shantytown in Nairobi, watching police storm the neighborhood, beating people who refused to abide by the curfew with their batons, when a police bullet struck his stomach.

Like many other African countries, Kenya has imposed sweeping restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The curfew, which requires people to stay in their homes from dusk to dawn, is the most stringent limitation and has led to a wave of police violence.

Over the weekend, police injured dozens of people in a crackdown in the coastal city of Mombasa. On Saturday morning, a motorcycle taxi driver died from injuries that his family says he sustained from being beaten by a policeman after he dropped off a pregnant woman at a hospital after curfew. (The police did not respond to requests for comment.)

 

“Yassin is short, so he climbed on a chair, held the rail on the balcony and started to look,” said his mother, Khadija Abdullahi Hussein. “I told the kids, ‘Don’t worry about the police, we are in the house. There is nothing wrong that we are doing.’ But one officer kept his flashlight pointed at us.”

Then, the flurry of gunfire.

 

Yassin’s father, Hussein Moyo Motte, heard the crackle while he watched television in a nearby house. His daughter’s name lit up on his cellphone. She said Yassin had been shot.

“I thought, how can that be if he was at home? How can that be if our house is not made of iron sheets?” said Motte.

Yassin’s mother couldn’t believe it either.

“Yassin told me that he had been hit, and I told him to stop his jokes because he likes to joke a lot,” she recalled as she wept at his burial Tuesday afternoon. “He said, ‘Mama, I am not lying, I have been shot. I swear I have been shot.’”

On Tuesday, police spokesman Charles Owino declined to comment on the incident, but the police’s inspector general said he was launching an investigation. A senior police official, Philip Ndolo, told Kenya’s Citizen TV that “the boy was accidentally hit by a ricochet as police were trying to disperse a gang who had defied the curfew directive.”

A social worker in Kiamaiko, the neighborhood where Yassin’s family lives, said she had been in touch with the neighborhood’s supervising officer, Juliana Wanyama, who was apologetic.

 

“The question the community is asking, however, is why are you sending the police to come to the community with live bullets?” said Faith Mumbe Kasina, of the Kiamaiko Social Justice Center.

Kenya has 81 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far with three recoveries and one death . In a report on the curfew crackdowns Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said the use of force could jeopardize efforts to slow the virus’s spread. Three Kenyans have died due to the police excessive use of force.

“It’s not likely we will see accountability for these excessive enforcement actions. Kenyan police have a history of rights abuses, including during law enforcement operations, and the officers involved are rarely investigated or held to account,” the report read.

Yassin was the third of seven siblings. He grew up in a neighborhood where many children live on the street, and gangs recruit them when they are young. Yassin stayed away from all that, while still being a social kid who had plenty of friends.

 

“He was such a good child — he tried to know everybody. He even knew his friends’ parents, people that I did not know,” said his mother. “We would walk around, and he would be saying hi to other adults, and I would ask, ‘Who is that?’ He would say, ‘We go to school with their son.’ ”

His funeral at the Kariokor Muslim Cemetery was attended by his large extended family as well as dozens of young people from the neighborhood around the graveyard. A few policemen stood on the side, and the crowd had nothing nice to say about them.

The police are feared in neighborhoods such as Kiamaiko and Kariokor, where residents say they are better known for taking lives than saving them. Yassin’s mother said she would rather the coronavirus have killed her son than the police because she just couldn’t bear the injustice of what happened.

 

“Imagine knowing that someone is out there laughing with his wife and children, and yet he has killed your child,” she said. “I want him to know that he has killed my child and that I can never forgive him for that.”

As she watched her son’s body be carried to be washed, then wrapped and then finally to be prayed over by her male relatives, she doubted whether the world around her — the police, the nurses at the hospital where Yassin died, the strangers gathered outside the cemetery — would understand her loss.

 

“They don’t care. It’s not their child,” she said. “He was just any other stranger.”

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Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2020 14:03

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