Anger was expressed widely by lawyers, members of the civil society, taxi operators and politicians yesterday as they poured into the streets of major towns across the country to protest the brutal killings of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.
The protests unfolded as three Administration Police officers — Fredrick ole Leliman, Stephen Chebulet and Silvia Wanjiku—were arraigned in a Milimani (Nairobi) court for a miscellaneous application pending charges for murdering the three.
They were remanded for two weeks to allow the police to conduct further investigations. In Nairobi, the protestors, in their hundreds, wearing pink ribbons and red-stained white T-shirts and carrying coffins and placards accused the police of killing the trio whose bodies were discovered in a river in Ol Donyo Sabuk, Machakos county.
The demonstrators called for immediate sacking of the Interior Cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and Deputy Inspector General of Police, in-charge of AP, Samuel Arachi, for allegedly sleeping on the job as officers under them abuse their powers.
Protesters also demanded that President Uhuru Kenyatta institutes a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into extrajudicial executions. In court, before chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo, the three accused appeared wearing heavy hoods to cover their brows as cameramen and photographers tried to capture their faces for the first time. The three struggled hard to avoid flashing cameras, but finally had to look up when their names were called out in court.
“The three respondents are AP officers attached to Syokimau chief’s camp, and hence have capacity to interfere with the ongoing investigations; at their arrest, their mobile phones were seized and submitted for forensic investigations and the process is ongoing,” prosecutor Nicholas Mutuku told the court as he sought to have them remanded.
“Crime scene personnel also need to process and analyse the various crime scenes—the fabricated container where it is said the deceased persons were detained, the area from where the bodies were recovered and any other possible vehicle that could have transported the deceased persons to the secondary location,” he added.
Ogembo ordered the trio be held for 14 days as police conclude investigations on the murders. According to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko, the three were arrested on Friday and police had no sufficient time to conclude investigations.
Police information indicates that slain human rights lawyer Kimani was, on the material day, representing his client Mwenda in a case against an AP officer and both had hired taximan Muiruri to take them to Mavoko Law Courts after which they were later reported missing.
Initial investigations are said to show the victims were abducted just after they left court and held for a while at Syokimau AP post. While in a pre-fabricated cell, Kimani was said to have written a distress note that was later found stuck in a light switch in the cell.
In Nairobi, the protests started at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner, through Kenyatta Avenue, Kimathi and Tom Mboya streets with stop-overs at Dedan Kimathi and Tom Mboya monuments. They then took City Hall Way to the Supreme Court where they addressed the media before presenting a petition and placing coffins outside the Boinnet and Nkaissery’s offices.
“This (murder) is an indication of systematic failure in the police structure which requires immediate action. We still have a police force, we now demand a police service,” said Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Isaac Okero.
It was drama at the Boinnet’s office after the demonstrators sprinkled a red liquid on Police Spokesman Charles Owino after they refused his explanation that action would be taken against those found culpable.
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, urged the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to initiate and lead independent investigations into the killings. Similar protests went on smoothly in Mombasa, Thika, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisii, among other towns.