Kenya: Life turned upside down by excessive use of force by the police in Mathare

Kenya held its second General Elections under the 2010 Constitution and sixth since the introduction of multiparty politics on 8 August 2017.

The election was closely contested.

The two major political formations that contested the elections were: the ruling Jubilee Party, headed by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, both seeking a second term; and the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), led by Raila Odinga, with Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate.

According to the results declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Uhuru Kenyatta received 54.2 per cent of the presidential vote, while Raila Odinga received 44.7 per cent.

NASA has disputed the declared results against the background of the murder of Chris Musando, the IEBC’s ICT Manager a week before the elections.

For 25 year old Felix Otieno, resident of Mathare, an informal settlement east of Nairobi, the declaration of the presidential results overturned his young life.

After the presidential results were announced, there were protests in opposition strongholds, including Mathare.

Felix said, “I was asleep around 10:00 am. Initially, I heard someone climbing the stairs to my room, which was followed by [a] loud kick on my door.”

When he realised the people outside were police officers attempting to forcefully enter his house, he placed a refrigerator against the door to prevent their entry. He escaped through the back door.

I feel like I have hit rock bottom. I don’t have a regular job, I rely on doing manual labour, now I have to start from scratch.
Felix Otieno, Mathare resident who was dragged out of his and beaten up by the police.

When he jumped out of the house, he noticed more police officers waiting for him.

“They tried to grab me by the collar of the shirt, but I managed to escape and, in the process, I tore my T-shirt.”

Felix escaped with only his boxer shorts and a torn tee-shirt.

And, upon realising he had escaped, the police threw a tear gas canister into his house, which set it ablaze and razed it to the ground.

Felix is now surviving on donations from well-wishers. The clothes he now wears were donated. As he no longer has a place to sleep, his friends are hosting him.

“I feel like I have hit rock bottom,” he said. “I don’t have a regular job, I rely on doing manual labour, now I have to start from scratch.”