Police should combat Corona, not Kenyans

Monday, March 30th, 2020 17:24 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PD/File

President Uhuru Kenyatta last week took the extraordinary decision of proclaiming a curfew in an effort to stem movement, a key factor in the spread of the deadly coronavirus. 

We say extraordinary because the country has not experienced nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew since the attempted military coup of 1982. 

It is, therefore, a novel experience for a huge chunk of the country’s population.

While making the proclamation, Uhuru said he had arrived at the decision because of the indiscipline of some Kenyans who had violated safety protocols outlined by the Health ministry, notably the advisory against huge gatherings and requirement that people who had recently travelled to countries hit by the virus self-isolate for 14 days. 

The President also outlined certain cadres of workers who were exempt from the curfew because they offer essential services.

These include healthcare professionals, security and emergency services workers, media employees, food, petrol and medicine suppliers as well as those working in banks and supermarkets. 

Besides individual citizens, the role of enforcing the curfew has fallen in the hands of the police. 

The officers have, however, attracted condemnation over the brutality meted on hapless citizens, particularly on Friday.

The country has been treated to heart-rending scenes of officers assaulting people caught up late, even those falling in the list of workers exempted from the curfew.

The overzealouness by the officers in enforcing the curfew, is most unfortunate and unprofessional.   

Of course, the major responsibility of compliance rests with individual citizens.

And here, as was aptly captured in the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce report, a considerable number of Kenyans strangely find incentive in lawlessness. 

But what we find irreconcilable is that there are individuals who defy directives that are meant to protect their lives.

It is irresponsible because the curfew was expected to limit individual rights in public interest—and this was to come with greater civic responsibility and sacrifice. 

This is why police must be restrained and ensure the enforcement of the curfew is done humanely.  And this way, we can all, as a nation, face and defeat the enemy that is Covid-19—which has attacked all mankind.

In the meantime, the Independent Police Overight Authority must call out the rogue cops and take disciplinary action against them.

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