Agony Over Excessive use of Power by Police During Anti-Finance Bill Protests

Agony Over Excessive use of Power by Police During Anti-Finance Bill Protests
Gen Z protests against finance bill

By Mary Owano, Kakamega

Tears, anger, and a somber mood filled the air in several mortuaries across the country, where the bodies of protestors shot dead by police during Tuesday's anti-Finance Bill demonstrations lay.

More than 20 people across the country, mainly youth, were shot dead by police during the protests against the Finance Bill 2024, which President William Ruto declined to assent to, heeding the calls by the youth.


Grieving families recounted the events that led to the deaths of their loved ones, most of whom were under 35 years old.


At Kakamega County Referral Hospital Mortuary, we meet relatives and friends of 35-year-old fruit vendor Caroline Shiramba from Musoli location in Ikolomani Sub-County, who succumbed to gunshots during Tuesday's anti-finance bill demos in Kakamega town.


Her grieving parents are yet to come to terms with the loss of their daughter after she was gunned down by police in the streets of Kakamega as she was heading home after her day-to-day business. Her mother, Alice Nekesa, crying for justice, lamented how the ugly scenes of Tuesday demonstrations took away her daughter.


"I am saddened by the death of my daughter Caroline, which I learned from a stranger while buying some items from a shop. Caroline was not among the protesters; she had just passed by to pick food for the day's supper when she met her untimely death after being shot by police during the protests," Alice cried.


She, however, blamed President William Ruto for her daughter's death, accusing him of failing to keep the campaign promises of improving Kenyans' living standards, only to turn his back on them.


"I voted for William Ruto because of his promises to Mama Mboga. Ruto promised to lift our living standards from bottom to top, but what have I been paid instead? The lifeless body of my daughter lying helplessly in the morgue? I am disappointed," she said.


The distressed father, Morris Shiramba, also expressed shock at his daughter's death, stating, "My heart is bleeding because of my lost child, knowing that she was going to be there for me when am old. Caroylne had been given food by her mom to take home when she came across her untimely death. She succumbed to a bullet that had been shot from the back of her neck during the protests," he lamented. 


Businesswomen working with Caroline's mother expressed their disappointment in the ruling government, promising to join the ongoing demonstrations led by Generation Z if legal actions are not taken.


Another protester, identified as Reagan Ouko, was also shot dead during the skirmishes witnessed yesterday in Kakamega town.


Confirming the incidents after paying a visit to the casualties with gunshot injuries at Kakamega County General Hospital, Governor Fernandes Barasa promised to cater for the funeral expenses of the deceased as well as wave off the hospital bills of two patients who are nursing bullet injuries.


"I have just confirmed we lost two people during the protest: a 35-year-old mama mboga Caroline Shiramba from Ikolomani and a 33-year-old Reagan Ouko from Kisumu. I have also checked the hospital; there are two injured young men, a 22-year-old and a 19-year-old, who will be discharged tomorrow, and the county government has waived their medical bills. I want to convey my condolences to the family, friends, and relatives of the succumbed victims, and assure them that we are going to take care of the burial expenses, especially for the late Caroline from Ikolomani. We are contacting our Kisumu counterparts to see how we can transport the late Regan to his home in Kisumu,"


Barasa condemned the police for using too much force on protesters practicing their democratic rights. He, however, advised the public on the importance of safeguarding public property during demonstrations after 18 county vehicles were destroyed, among other property losses experienced. 


"I condemn the police for using excess force on peaceful demonstrators. Who have a right under Article 37 of the Constitution to peacefully demonstrate and picket. However, in future when we are having these kinds of demonstrations, I beseech our people not to destroy property because this is our county,"  commented the governor.


The act of police using excessive force on protesters has attracted comments from leaders from the opposition, outside nations, and organizations championing human rights, including Amnesty International, condemning the excessive and recessionary use of lethal force by the Kenyan police.


According to Independent Police Oversight Authorities (IPOA), the National Police Service Act and service standing orders dictate that force used by an officer shall be proportional to the objective to be achieved, the seriousness of the offense, and the resistance of the person against whom it is used, promising to probe the shootings that happened during the protests.