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Kisumu court room session
21

Witness: I only encounter police oversight in newspapers

8 March 2019 - 18:03

By Susan Kendi and Sarah Nyakio

Crutches cluck on the marble floor of the High Court in Kisumu, breaking the silence as Tobias Wanga Odhiambo slowly makes his way to the witness stand.

He takes the black seat readied for him and begins to speak in Kiswahili in response to the questions.

Odhiambo was shot in the back during the post-2007 election violence. He claims that a police officer in a company of his three colleagues opened fire from behind him, which is why he lost the full function of limbs. He is one of only two victims who have come to give flesh, breath and voice to the case filed by 13 victims of police shootings.

As he winds up his testimony and answers questions, Odhiambo lights up the courtroom when he claims he has never seen the Independent Police Oversight Authority conducting investigations into violations against victims of police shootings in the location he lives. He added that he only encounters IPOA in newspapers.

Journalists for Justice’s Susan Kendi and Sarah Nyakio attended the March 5, 2019 hearing of the case at Kisumu High Court and report the following excerpts:

Lawyer Mbugua Mureithi: Please tell the court your full name.

Odhiambo: I am Tobias Wanga Odhiambo.

Mureithi: And you are Petitioner No.?

Odhiambo: I am Petitioner No. 12.

Mureithi: When did you submit your affidavit evidence?

Odhiambo: September 4, 2014.

Lawyer Janet Lang’at for the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Inspector General of Police then cross-examined Odhiambo:

Lang’at: When were you shot?

Odhiambo: December 31, 2007.

Lang’at: Were you at work?

Odhiambo: No.

Lang’at: Where were you?

Odhiambo: I was heading home.

Lang’at: Were you on a motorcycle?

Odhiambo: I was on foot.

Lang’at: You said you used to fix motorcycles. Had you abandoned your motorcycle to walk?

Odhiambo: I was not working on that day.

Lang’at: Who shot you?

Odhiambo: I was hot by a policeman.

Lang’at: Which police officer; from what formation?

Odhiambo: I cannot tell, but he was dressed in police uniform.

Lang’at: There are different police formations, so which one was it: a private security guard, armed forces serviceman or prisons officer?

Odhiambo: I believe it was an Administration Police officer.

Lang’at: What uniform was he dressed in?

Odhiambo: It was green.

Lang’at: Did you see him fire the gun?

Odhiambo: I saw him when he approached me as I sat on the ground after realizing that my foot was injured and I could not walk.

Lang’at: Did you see him shoot at you?

Odhiambo: No, I did not see him shoot me. I was walking forward, and he shot me in the back.

Lang’at: How did you know it was he that shot you?

Odhiambo: Four officers came to where I was. Three of them were reprimanding the fourth one, and I knew it was he who had shot me.

Lang’at: Were you taken to hospital and treated?

Odhiambo: Yes, the police transported me on the back of a white pick-up truck whose registration number I could not see.

Lang’at: Did you see the bullet?

Odhiambo: No, I did not.

Lang’at: After your operation, did they find the cartridge?

Odhiambo: The bullet went through and only left shrapnel in the bone.

Lawyer Bernadette Mutie, representing IPOA, also cross-examined Odhiambo:

Mutie: Have you gone over your petition to the court in this matter?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: You have accused the Independent Policing Oversight Authority of not investigating your shooting, rigth?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: You were shot on December 31, 2007?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: And it is true that IPOA was not in existence at the time you were shot?

Odhiambo: I did not know.

Mutie: Do you know when IPOA was established?

Odhiambo: I do not know.

Mutie: Do you know what IPOA does?

Odhiambo: IPOA investigates police misconduct.

Mutie: Normally, what happened to you can be investigated by IPOA?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: Have you filed a complaint with IPOA?

Odhiambo: Not yet.

Mutie: Do you know if people who suffered injuries like you have filed complaints with IPOA?

Odhiambo: I cannot tell.

Mutie: Do you know if CAVI and IMLU have lodged a complaint with IPOA on your behalf?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: Are you able to lodge your complaint with IPOA?

Odhiambo: Yes.

Mutie: Are you sure IPOA will handle your complaint expeditiously?

Odhiambo: I am not sure.

Mutie: Why are you unsure?

Odhiambo: I do not know where to find them.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Mbugua Mureithi, then re-examined Odhiambo:

Mureithi: Have you ever heard of IPOA visiting your home area of Migori to investigate whose rights were violated by police in 2007?

Odhiambo: No, I only encounter them in the newspapers.

This concluded the presentation of evidence by petitioners and victims. The mention for Petition 18 of 2014 will be on May 27, 2019.

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