Lobbies question police report on the death of Embu brothers

Friday, August 6th, 2021 00:00 |
Brothers Benson Njiru and Emmanuel Mutura who died after they were arrested for flouting curfew rules. Photo/PD/Courtesy

An independent probe into the death of two brothers, who had been arrested by police officers for allegedly flouting curfew regulations has been launched.

The probe comes as it emerged that cases of brutality and extortion by officers enforcing curfew rules have been on the rise.

Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya yesterday condemned the deaths saying, whereas the area police commander claimed that the two – Benson Njiru Ndwiga and Emmanuel Mutura Ndwiga – died because of head injuries sustained after they “discreetly” jumped out of a moving police van, preliminary findings contradict the police narrative.

“We ask for speedy investigations by the IPOA team. PRWG-K has also engaged an independent pathologist to witness the post-mortem,” the group said.

The lobby said while police knew well that the two brothers were dead, they did not tell their family members.

Deaths of the Ndwiga brothers bring to the fore increased cases of extortion and malpractices by police enforcing curfew orders.

Several physical attacks have been reported to the authorities with revelations that officers had now resorted to M-Pesa transactions to extort from the public.

Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), also a member of the PRWG-K, yesterday launched investigations into the suspected murder of the two men whose bodies were found at Embu Level 5 hospital mortuary after they were reportedly arrested by police.

IPOA chairperson Ann Makori yesterday said they had deployed investigators from Nairobi headquarters to beef up investigators from Meru so that they can conclude the matter as soon as possible.

Police reports said the vehicle, with 10 suspects, was being driven by Constable James Mwaniki and who was with three other officers.

They claim the duo opened the moving vehicle’s tent and jumped out without being noticed, 35 metres apart, and died on the spot.

However, the vehicle proceeded to Karau and later to Manyatta police station.

“After the head count, it was realised that two of the prisoners were missing.

Search was conducted and the bodies of the two were found at the scene,” a brief to Police headquarters read.

The two brothers were arrested on Sunday night at Kianjokoma market for flouting curfew hours, about a kilometre from their home only for their bodies to be found in the mortuary.

Among the witnesses detective are seeking to interrogate are the other suspects who were in the same police vehicle.

Embu North sub-county police commander Emily Ngaruiya said the two jumped from the speeding vehicle and died on the spot.

“Out of the eight suspects that remained in the police car, one of them heard the two whispering to each other that they were going to jump out,” the OCPD said.

It is the subsequent police conduct that has made the family suspicious. After driving to Manyatta police station to inquire the whereabouts of their sons they were tossed from one station to another, with all claiming they were not aware of the case.

Tension remained high in the area yesterday as residents demanded answers. On Tuesday, the locals barricaded the main road and set a police vehicle on fire. 

PRWG-K urged members of the public to stay calm and desist from taking the law into their hands as they push the justice actors to speed up investigation and ensure perpetrators are brought to book.

“We also call upon them to assist the police with information relevant in the investigations,” the lobby said.

It added that it was not the first death arising out of police enforcement of Covid-19 measures.

IMLU, for instance, received 25 cases of extra-judicial executions and 43 incidents of torture and ill-treatment as a result of enforcement of Covid-19 regulations.

Inconsistent testimony

The lobby said that suspicious deaths in police custody were one of the circumstances in which the Coroner’s Office under a Coroner-General, would have been called upon to carry out an autopsy, preservation, and analysis of evidence to ascertain the cause of death including whether the two were tortured.

“Sadly, the National Coroners Service Act 2017 has not been operationalised since its passage in 2017,” the group said.

Last week, Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi found police officer David Rono culpable in the death of 20-year-old Nura Malicha Molu based on investigations and evidence produced by IPOA in an inquest.

The police claimed that Nura was killed in February 2015, for attacking Rono during a robbery.

However, evidence showed that their testimony was inconsistent; the matter was never reported to a police station and there was no Occurrence Book entry.

The court noted that the police may have been covering up for their colleagues and ordered the file to be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for appropriate action.

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