Police and doctors at Kwale Subcounty Hospital are frustrating the postmortem of Erick Ng’ethe, a 22-year-old who cops murdered during coronavirus curfew.
MUHURI and the deceased’s family suspects a possible coverup.
Witnesses told MUHURI police smashed Ng’ethe’s skull using a wooden baton, causing his death.
The incident occurred at 9 pm on April 1, 2020, at the Nile Pub and Restaurant in Diani, Kwale. Ng’ethe worked here as an accountant.
At least 12 revellers barricaded themselves inside the pub when police attempted to access it.
Cops destroyed the pub’s roof and lobbed teargas canisters.
The deceased started choking on the teargas smoke.
He crawled to open the door, and when he lifted his head, a cop hit it with a baton. Ng’ethe fell and started to show signs of a death rattle.
The victim shook his limbs rapidly and had difficulties in breathing, one witness said.
“Police poured water on him, and he ceased moving,” another witness said.
The postmortem was at 9 am on April 7, 2020. It would have revealed the exact cause of death. The family believes police brutality resulted in their kin’s death – the second at the Coast since the dusk-to-dawn coronavirus curfew started on March 27, 2020.
The hospital had confirmed the postmortem a day earlier. Police were to record the operation — they claimed an inquest is on.
But the hospital refused to operate the body, 30 minutes before the due time.
Medical superintendent, Rizky Ali, cited a lack of equipment. The hospital then closed the morgue.
MUHURI escalated its interventions to the health department.
Kwale Chief Officer for Health services, Salim Mbete, said the hospital has no experienced doctor to perform a forensic post-mortem.
He shortly changed his statement and offered to operate the body, despite refusing this undertaking two days earlier.
Mbete said the hospital had postmortem equipment, contradicting a statement by the medical superintendent.
Mbete set the autopsy at 2 pm on April 7, 2020. He did not show up.
Attempts to burry evidence
Ng’ethe’s family wanted to transfer the body to Mombasa County Level Five Teaching and Referral Hospital morgue for an autopsy.
However, this would not have been possible without police permit and escort, because the matter is under their probe.
But police refused to issue a permit or provide an escort.
The family said police want to bury evidence.
There are reports Kwale hospital disposes of corpses at mass graves after seven days to contain coronavirus. April 7, 2020, marked the sixth day since police brought Ng’ethe’s body at the morgue.
An autopsy report is critical if the case ends in court – and since primary evidence implicates police in the murder, a delayed postmortem plays into their plan.
Police have given conflicting information about Ng’ethe’s death.
At first, police told the media the deceased destroyed the pub’s roof and attempted to escape, before falling. They changed the version and said Ng’ethe died in a stampede. Police latest explanation is that Ng’ethe committed suicide.
Daniel Ng’ang’a, the deceased father, said his son was about to join a local university. Police cut short his dream.
Ng’ang’a said the government is murdering its people, affecting many who voted it into power.
“Is President Uhuru Kenyatta issuing orders to kill?” the father posed.
Ng’ang’a thought Uhuru would defend his family because he voted him as the President in the 2017 controversial ballot.
“How will Uhuru reacts if police murdered his son?” the father of the slain youth, posed.
MUHURI chairman Khelef Khalifa said police are determined to destroy evidence and kill the case.
“Every evidence implicates police who want to defeat justice. Their versions are unbacked, fictitious, and out of this world. This is a murder,” he said.
Khalifa said Uhuru staged a Public Relations stunt when he “apologized” over police violence during the curfew.
“He doesn’t care because the sufferers are poor people,” Khalifa said.
He said the buck stops with Uhuru who is doing nothing to tame police violence.