19 January 2018

Kenya: Family Demands Justice for Daughter Hit By Stray Police Bullet

The family of a woman who was shot last week during a confrontation between hawkers and Uasin Gishu County askaris and police is crying out for justice.

Mercy Sitienei, 22, was shot while in her M-Pesa shop in Eldoret town last Thursday. She was hit in the right thigh by a stray bullet during the confrontation between the hawkers and the county enforcement officers who were accompanied by police officers.

PARALYSIS

Ms Sitienei was taken to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Eldoret. The doctors, however, said the bullet could lead to paralysis or decomposition of the leg.

"I'm an innocent Kenyan who was going about my business. I did not confront or throw stones at anyone to justify being shot. Those who did this to me should be brought to book," Ms Sitienei, who is now recuperating at home under the care of her elder sister Agnes, told Nation.

She said tension had been building up between the county askaris and the hawkers before the Thursday confrontation.

"The tension peaked on the day I was hit by a stray bullet ... I had locked myself in the shop," she said.

Ms Sitienei added that she could not clearly recall the events after she was hit by the bullet, since she was in a lot of pain.

Ms Sitienei, who was hoping to save money from her business to enable her to enrol for a pharmacy course, now fears she may not realise her dream.

POLICE BRUTALITY

Her father, Samson Chebii, has accused police of using force to disperse the hawkers.

"We are saddened as a family because police who should be protecting Kenyans are the ones misusing their firearms by shooting innocent civilians," said Mr Chebii.

He is demanding that his daughter be compensated for the injury she suffered.

However, Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said his office was not aware of the shooting, but promised to look into it.

Mr Chemno also dismissed claims that the county government was profiling hawkers from certain communities, saying the operation was aimed at flushing out "bad elements engaging in illegal activities like selling of illicit brews and bhang".

"The security officers were only acting on a security brief. One of the culprits stabbed one of our enforcement officers with a knife. We are not profiling anybody as the market is being used by hawkers from all communities," said the deputy governor.

He went on: "We are not aware of anybody who was shot by police but one of our enforcement officers was stabbed in the confrontation."

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