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Eight Taveta locals and rights activists arrested before they protested the poor health services at Taita Taveta county hospitals have been released, each on Sh20,000 personal bond.

The group posted nothing to secure their freedom. They will only pay Sh20,000 each if they fail to appear in court, with the next mention coming up on March 18.

The police arraigned all in Taveta on March 5 after arresting them the previous day.

Victims included Sharlet Ndiga, 51, Cecilia Mukonyo, 65, and Mariam Matiku, 59. Others were Alex Mzasi, Ruphas Ngura, and Mohamed Ali.

Eight locals and activists arrested by police. They appeared at a magistrate court in Taveta. Photo: Ernest Cornel.

Police apprehended MUHURI’s Francis Auma and Kelly Aduo, too, claiming that, together with others, assembled “unlawfully” and “contravened” Covid-19 health protocols.

But a state prosecutor dropped the second charge, while the accused denied the first count.

The group were to protest a rundown health system in the county.

Most public hospitals in the county lack drugs. Patients are forced to provide their surgical gloves before seeking treatment. Locals reported kins died waiting to be treated by striking healthcare workers.

The renal unit, maternity, paediatric care, theatre, in-patient and the cancer centre are adversely affected.

The strike stretches over three months. Medical workers are demanding delayed salaries, Personal Protective Equipment, remittance of statutory deductions, among other grievances.

But Taita Taveta county stonewalled talks, sacked over 500 health workers in January, and recently evicted some 69 nurses from staff quarters.

MUHURI legal officer, Dennis Chinzi, told magistrate Adisa Louser that police punished locals, especially the elderly women, for just demanding better healthcare. He asked the court to give a free bond.