By Maria- Paula
A human rights case is brewing in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, the East African country led by Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the nation’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.
On July 27, 2021 Njeri Migwi, Wambui Ochieng’, Bange Mecha, Rogers Otieno, Julius Omondi, Innocent Joel and Moses Okoth, human rights activists connected with the community organization, Usikimye, – a Swahili word for don’t be quiet – were arrested while holding a peaceful candlelit vigil in honor of 8-year-old student, Jennifer Mitchell.
“We have been candidly told that if we dare proceed with the march, we will be tear gassed and arrested.” Said Migwi. “ We were also told to go and peruse the case file since the Police are carrying out investigations.”
Activist Njeri Migwi, lamented that despite informing the Kenya Police in good time of their intent to hold the protest, they were still arrested.
Michelle, a 2nd grade student at New View Academy in the Kayole area of Nairobi, died under mysterious circumstances and her body dumped at Mama Lucy Hospital morgue.
Hilda Achieng’, Michelle’s mother, said she dropped her daughter off to school, in a jovial mood and in good health on Wednesday, May 19, not knowing she would never see her alive again, She expected her back home at 5 pm together with other neighbors’ children, as was the norm.
Surveillance (CCTV) footage at Mama Lucy Hospital identified four men who drove to the health facility while carrying the pupil. Michelle’s father, Ayub Owino said among those identified in the recording was the school principal.
“I could identify the occupants inside the car. The principal of the school, Wellington, got out of the car and carried the child and from the look, the minor was dead.” Owino said.
The footage showed a station wagon, with plates KBS 167P, entering the hospital compound at 5.30 pm., discharged the minor into the hospital’s emergency unit, and left 14 minutes later. Some of the men who dropped off the child even pretended to fill in hospital admission forms.
According to a doctor’s report at the facility, the student who was admitted into the hospital without her parents knowledge, was already dead on arrival.
Michelle is alleged to have collapsed in class after being unable to tackle a math question on the classroom board. Some of her classmates who reported to have been bribed Kenya Shillings 30 ( less than $1) each in exchange for their silence, said the teacher hit the student in the head, causing the student to fall down, never to wake up again. She was then isolated in a room and later taken to hospital when she remained unresponsive.
Her parents only learned about the girls death at 10 pm, after a five hour long search. Since they had filed a missing person report at the Kayole Police Post earlier that evening, they received a call from the police informing them of an unidentified body matching their daughters description.
“She was in the morgue, long dead. The hospital said she had been brought there by unknown people,” Said Michelle’s mother, Achieng’.
On different instances, angry residents have staged peaceful protests over lack of communication from the school which remains in operation but police continuously disperse them. No arrests have been made so far. This poses questions of why there is suspicious protection of the schools interest?
The recent arrests of the now famous “Kayole-7” human rights activists is a clear indication of how the Kenyan administrative system is no-longer just for all. To arrest defenders and leave the perpetrators free in this case leaves a lot of unanswered questions on what separates wrong and right in the lands justice structures. They were initially charged for illegal demonstrations with their charge sheets later being changed in court to lack of social distancing.
Nairobi police boss Augustine Nthumbi said investigations are ongoing having talked to people who handled the case. Meanwhile, for Michelle’s family and other well wishers keen in this proceedings, justice delayed is justice denied.