“It takes me approximately 32 kilometres from Kwale to the busy Likoni ferry crossing channel. Whenever I cross to the Mombasa Island, I walk further 12 steps to one of the trees that witnessed all the pain inflicted on me”
“The blue waters of the Indian Ocean will ever carry my red bleeding heart. All fresh memories of the police brutality are well preserved under this tree”
Even before he opens up, the 36 year old and a father of three Gilbert Pulah Nguma, removes his handkerchief from his trousers pocket, rubs his teary eyes and sits on a stone.
He vividly recalls the second day of the dusk to dawn curfew on March, 28 2020 where police descended on innocent people crossing the Likoni ferry channel.
A painful encounter that left him with permanent injury on his left leg and severe back pain that changed his life for good.
“I worked as a transporter both in Kwale and other parts of the Coast region, but that remains a history,” he painfully said.
Pulah, who can’t drive a vehicle anymore since he can’t bend his left leg, says he is living in poverty following police brutality at the Likoni ferry crossing channel.
“I remember it was on a Saturday afternoon we had queued with other people waiting for the next vessel so that we cross to Likoni mainland south. It was not even during the curfew hours and the police started beating us,” he said.
The reason for such brutality to date remains a puzzle.
“I was surrounded by not less than five security agents among them the GSU, regular police and the NYS, they almost killed me,” he painfully narrated.
Pulah says he was beaten until he was unconscious.
[Rights defenders lying on the ground at the Likoni ferry channel in remembering the victims of torture. At the back (squatting) is Haki Africa Deputy Executive Director Salma Hemed. Photo/Haramo Ali].
After gaining conscious he crossed the ferry heading to his home in Kwale since his wife was eight month pregnant and he was taking some medicine to her.
“So the Kenya Red Cross Society officials gave me some first aid and tied bandages on my wounds. My back had swollen and I only saw death,” he said.
On reaching Kombani area it was almost 7 pm where police ruthlessly beat him again with the bandages all over his swollen body falling down leaving his bleeding wounds open.
Though Pulah is struggling to block his tears as he narrates the ordeal, one can see the painful tears freely flowing down his cheeks.
He later managed to reach to Kwale and crawled to Kwale hospital where he was not attended to.
When the going gets tough
At around 2 am he decided to crawl again back to his home where his family was in shock and disbelief after seeing an energetic young man soaked in blood and pain.
“For three months, I couldn’t do anything apart from being carried to the bathroom, get bathed and taken back to the living room. I was being fed on porridge like my own young children,” he said.
For the one year since the police brutality meted on him, Pulah has not received any serious medical attention, body scan or even x-ray. He only relied on a traditional masseuse for him to walk again.
He has been indulging in painting activities within Kwale town as a casual laborer so that he can fend for his family young family.
He is living a hand to mouth life and at times he lack the basic needs for his family.
“I am pained, I hate the police and I am not sure if I will heal from this,” he said.
The Missing Voices, a network of civil rights organisations across the country launched its annual report ‘Brutal pandemic’ on March, 24 at the Mama Ngina Water Front, Mombasa
According to the rights defenders, a total of 157 people were killed by police in 2020 alone, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.
10 others disappeared under police custody in unclear circumstances.
“Why are police officers killing us? We want the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and the Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i to make a public pronouncement condemning police excesses,” said Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid during the launch.
According to Khalid, police brutality cases are on the rise with Nairobi, Mombasa and the North Eastern part of Kenya being the most affected regions.
[Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid giving locals flowers at the Likoni ferry channel during candle lighting event in commemoration of the police brutality at the channel. Photo. Haramo Ali].
“We want Reparations of Victims and families of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” added Mr. Khalid.
During the event that culminated with candle lighting at the Likoni ferry crossing channel in remembering victims of police brutality in the country, Khalid condemned police brutality calling for concerted efforts in taming it.
He called on the implementation of the National Coroner’s Act and the Prevention of Torture Act as well as constitution of National commission of inquiry into violations by security agents.
“We can’t remain mum as 13 Kenyans are executed by police every month, this is so disheartening,” he said.