Seven months down the line, Mr Joseph Macharia is bedridden in Mombasa after he sustained a head injury from what his family alleged to be police brutality.
Lying unconsciously on his bed with a feeding tube protruding from his nose, 35-year-old Macharia now leads a life that is a pale shadow of what it used to be.
Before the incident, Macharia was a mechanic in Eldoret. He had visited his mother in Wayani, Changamwe sub-ounty in Mombasa, but was trapped by an inter-county travel ban imposed by the government to avert the spread of the coronavirus.
When the Nation visited his home, his elderly mother, Ms Rose Waruguru, was busy helping her son sleep comfortably, something that has now become her permanent job.
Narrating the ordeal, Ms Waruguru said her son had gone to the shop on May 23 but he never returned home.
“I received a phone call from a neighbour the following morning informing me that they rescued my son who was being assaulted by police but he was in a critical condition. I rushed to my neighbour’s home,” said the distraught mother.
“Fear gripped me when I saw my son lying unconsciously with bloodstains on his body. We hurriedly took my son to Port Ritz Hospital where he was admitted for three-and-a-half months but his condition did not improve,” she narrated.
Ms Waruguru said that according to her neighbours, police were chasing people who had not complied with the curfew regulations. They saw Macharia fall as police passed him to pursue other people and took him in and only informed her in the morning.
Ms Waruguru said after an x-ray, doctors established that Macharia sustained a head injury.
“Nobody knew where my son was hit but the x-ray revealed to us that he was hit on the head. My son is as good as dead. I’m forced to do everything for him including bathing, feeding, changing his diapers and changing his sleeping position from time to time,” said Ms Waruguru, adding that his son is not able to speak, hear, move or even open his eyes.
Doctors at Port Reitz told her to be patient because it may take a while before her son regains his ability to move.
The mother said she has to grind his food into a liquid form so that it can pass through the feeding tube.
Ms Waruguru, who is a single parent, is now calling on well-wishers to offer her financial assistance to sustain her life.
“I used to wash my neighbours’ clothes to earn a living but because of my son’s condition, I was forced to quit and dedicate my full time to taking care of him,” she said.
“His condition is not stable so I cannot live him by himself; sometimes he gets seizures and needs to be taken to hospital. Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) introduced me to international medico-legal units who have been taking care of his treatment. But getting food and rent is a challenge to me since I’m not able to work. I have rent arrears of about seven months.”
She said that since the incident, his treatment has cost more than Sh500,000.
At the same time, Ms Waruguru called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i to intervene in getting justice for her son.
“We reported the matter to Changamwe Police Station and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) but we are yet to get justice. We are poor and the government has not bothered to help us even though it is them who put my son in this state,” she said.
Ms Waruguru claimed that officers at Changamwe Police Station declined to record the incident.
“They would always ask us to come tomorrow to write a statement every time we went to report. We got tired and stopped pursuing the matter. We later reported the incident at IPOA and it was booked under IPOA/cmu/1649/2020,” said Ms Waruguru.
However, Changamwe Sub-county Police Commander Joseph Kavoo said he was not aware of the incident although he insisted that police must act professionally at all times.
“I had not reported when the incident happened, I came to this station late in May. There are channels to be followed so that we can ensure these people get justice. This is a serious matter,” said Mr Kavoo.
He added that for formal investigations to begin, a report must be filed.
Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma accused police officers of using excessive force to impose curfew restrictions.
He decried increased police brutality in Changamwe Sub-county, saying many people have lost their lives to police brutality.
“Two weeks ago, police pushed Mr Hassan Roble from a moving vehicle and he lost his life. In 2018, they beat Mr Caleb Espino to death inside Changamwe Police Station. It is high time that the government intervenes and brings those involved to book. Police are getting away with a lot of injustices because they are protected,” he said.