By Shem Beverton
National disillusionment and frustration with Kenya’s law enforcement agencies shows no signs of abetting.An incident involving a 16 year old girl from Busia has brought to the fore the widespread rot bedeviling the police force that is supposed to be a symbol of national pride.
The teenager,simply known as Liz,was waylaid by rapists on her way home after paying her last respects to her fallen grandfather.Liz was viciously beaten and raped in turn by her assailants leaving her for the dead after which her unconscious body was dragged to a pit latrine and thrown inside.
This inhumane incident caused the girl great bodily harm as she sustained a spinal injury that has confined her to a wheelchair and subjected her to the worst case of fistula. She managed to identify her attackers to the police after miraculously surviving her tormenting ordeal. The police handed a ‘severe punishment’ to the culprits by ordering them to slash grass after which they were set free.
Punishment handed over to the pack of wolves has generated both national and international outcry. More than one million disgusted civilised citizens of the world have signed up to an online campaign to demand justice for Liz.
Protestors came out in numbers early today as they took their petition for justice to the police headquarters in Nairobi. Keep off our panties. That was the official rant. Â The above incident that has shocked the conscience of many, is the latest in a series of complaints made against various law enforcement agencies.
It comes hardly a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly put up a strong defense against media reports that adversely implicated the rotten security intelligence in the country .The president vowed not to allow anyone to demoralize the force which had taken an oath to put the lives of it’s officers on the line so that Kenyans could live.
Many a Kenyan can hardly comprehend why the son of Jomo put up a defense for a rotten force that Wole Akinwande Soyinka,a Nobel prize for literature winner, would unremorsefully describe as ‘the open sore of a nation’. Barrack Obama,then senator for Illinois,in attempting to analyze Kenya’s security challenges sensationally blamed the widespread insecurity the country was grappling with on the endemic rot of corruption in the police force.
In a rejoinder, the government through then spokesman, now governor for Machakos county, rubbished Obama’s assessment as ignorant, deeply flawed and a serious encroachment on the country’s sovereignty. Massive corruption within our law enforcement body continue to roll the carpet back on hard fought gains in matters security. The so-called police reforms seem to have stalled to the detriment of the security of Kenyans.
Men in uniform continue to operate with scant regard for the rule of law and impunity. It is appalling that even after the Westgate terrorist assault no substantive reforms in the force has been undertaken.The public is incessantly being treated to endless choruses of the exquisite performance of the uniformed men and women in what appears to be a grand scheme to mislead the public in a well-calculated cover-up.
Our beloved country stands to lose big time if the status quo is not decisively challenged. The trust deficit between the public and the forces is seriously wide and failure to address it only adds more bricks to the wall of mistrust hampering progress. Kenyans must verifiably demand accountability if the recent surge in insecurity is to be mitigated.
Security, it must be said, is the minimum that the people can demand from their government. It is the most sound yardstick of measuring the performance of a government committed to it’s citizens and can be the premise upon which it’s legitimacy is anchored.