By Adv. Kavutha Mutua
Justice Odunga J, on January 25th, 2021, at the Machakos High Court, delivered a judgment in favour of petitioner Jeremiah Ole Dashii Pallangyo in petition no. 57 of 2013. The court found that the petitioner's constitutional rights were violated on October 22nd, 2011.
On October 22nd, 2011, at around 6 am, the petitioner heard screams and some commotion outside his house in Kinanie estate, where he lived. He checked what was happening and found that a group of the villagers had gathered outside on one side while on the opposite side were five armed police officers with dogs from Athi River Police Station. On inquiring, Jeremiah was informed that the police were demolishing some houses in that area based on a court demolition order. A short commotion ensued soon after, and he fell on the ground, having been shot. According to the Petitioner, the gunshot was from Mr Francis Wang'ombe Wachira, the Deputy OCS at Athi River Police station then.
Jeremiah was taken to Athi River Medical Services Clinic for first aid. He was then referred to Kenyatta National Hospital for further treatment. He was admitted on October 31st, 2011, when he was discharged to continue with outpatient treatment and management of the injuries suffered from the gunshot wound.
The petitioner was arrested and charged on January 3rd, 2012, with the offences of;
(a) Willing entirely obstructing police officers contrary to section 253(b) of the Penal Code.
(b) Disobeying a lawful order contrary to section 3(a) of the Penal Code.
(c) Taking part in unlawful assembly contrary to section 79 of the Penal Code.
IMLU contracted advocate Ronald Rogo for legal representation in this matter's legal defence on January 16th, 2012. The criminal case was prosecuted for ten months, where the prosecution called witnesses, and he was eventually acquitted under section 215 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
IMLU contracted advocate Ronald Rogo to file a constitutional petition to seek redress for the violation of the petitioner's human rights on March 12th, 2013. On September 30th, 2015, Advocate Scola Munyao took over litigation of the matter.
In the petition, the petitioner deposed that the 5th Respondent, Mr Francis Wangombe used excessive force in quelling the unarmed demonstration by firing live ammunition at him contrary to section 241 and 231 (a) of the Penal Code and after that proceeded to arrest and detain him on unsubstantiated offences when he sought to register a complaint. Besides the infringement of his constitutional rights, the petitioner claimed that he was maliciously prosecuted on trumped-up charges and eventually acquitted.
The court made the following awards in favour of the petitioner against the Attorney General and The National Police Service, jointly and severally as follows:
(a) General damages for infringement of the Petitioners constitutional rights - Kshs 4,000,000.00.
(b) Punitive or exemplary damages – Kshs 1,000,000.00.
(c) Special damages Kshs 353,200.00.
(d) Interests on (a) and (b) at court rates from the date of the judgment till payment in full, while interests on (c) shall accrue at the same rate from the date of filing suit till payment in full.
(e) The Petitioner will also have the costs of the suit.
Jeremiah's case was reported to IMLU in 2011 by Michael Maina. Jeremiah has been receiving medical, psychological support, and legal representation through the organization's intervention until the matter's successful conclusion.