By Sammi Nderitu
It is every parent’s nightmare to lose a child, more so through a brutal act of violence. When the IMLU team meet Joseph Odhiambo and Betty Akinyi, parents to the late Peter Odhiambo, a victim of police brutality, they were still disturbed and in grief at the loss of their son. In November 2021, their peaceful night was rudely interrupted when someone came knocking on their door at 3 am to inform them that their son had been shot dead by the police.
“It was a nightmare. Just a few hours earlier, at 7am, my 30-year-old-son was home taking dinner with us and thereafter we knew that he had retreated to his house for the night. However, as we later discovered, he decided to join his friends at a nearby restaurant for some entertainment and sadly he didn’t get to live until the light of day. Every day we wake up as a family wishing that one day we will know the truth about our son’s murderer. The investigations have been moving slowly, which is painful to us,” says Mzee Joseph.
Mama Betty adds that “From what we gathered on the day he was shot, he got a call from a police officer to join him for a drink at a certain restaurant. When he arrived there, he got uncomfortable after noticing that there were other people who were trailing him. He proceeded to leave to another entertainment spot. It is not known what transpired thereafter and the circumstances that led to his shooting.”
“A follow-up with the police to understand the motive behind the killings was met with resistance and intimidation. The police rebuffed the family’s effort to get the truth behind the killing. “How can police say that my son was a criminal in this area yet he was widely known in the community as a kind, friendly and jovial person and also did not have any criminal record? “
“Since the investigations started last year, the police have failed to identify the killer The scene of shooting was also highly tempered with which pointed to a deliberate effort by someone to hide and destroy any incriminating evidence. My son’s mobile phone has also never been recovered,” said Mzee Joseph.
As the family looks back to the days after the brutal incident, they are grateful that Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) embedded a human right monitor to walk with them through the difficult time and to also assist them in documenting the case.
“The monitor provided us with information on what we needed to know and do in our pursuit for justice. IMLU supported us in conducting a postmortem examination to establish the cause of death. IPOA too also contacted us as they started investigation into the case. From our own deductions, our son may have been shot while his hands were raised up. The bullet that killed him raptured his vital internal organs,” the parents said.
The parents say the police heavily interfered with the burial plans and dictated how their son should be laid to rest. After his burial, unknown people would be seen visiting the home and taking pictures which would then be sent to the police. This was an act of intimidation projected on the parents and family members of the deceased.
Almost a year later after the incident happened, the family is still hopeful that they will get justice for their son despite the little progress they have seen to date. “Getting justice for our son is increasingly looking like it will never happen but we are holding on to the faith that we will. We call on IMLU to assist us in getting a lawyer who will help us to fast track the case. As a family, we also need psychological help as we seek to heal from the tragedy of losing a beloved son,” Mzee Joseph said.
Mama Betty who is also a volunteer in one of Kondele’s Nyumba Kumi groups adds; “in the absence of a community psychologist to walk with us through this painful season, it has been difficult for us to get help. There is a need for such services in this estate to help us process the loss. Several other people within Kondele have also been victims of police shootings and they will certainly appreciate the help.