Three Kenyan police officers were arrested after a widely disseminated video showed the men dragging a woman behind a motorcycle and whipping her.
Thursday’s arrests came after the video taken the previous day in South Kuresoi, west of the capital, Nairobi, sparked outrage from social media users, activists and others.
In the 1.5-minute clip, a policeman is seen on a motorbike, 21-year-old Mercy Cherono, dragged behind, while others beat her. This ordeal slips her pants, leaving her naked from waist to toe.
“Three police officers were arrested yesterday … following the broadcast of a video showing a woman whipped and dragged on a motorbike in South Kuresoi sub-county,” the direction of the criminal investigations said in a statement.
“The suspects are in regular detention, helping to further investigate the case,” he added.
THREE @PoliceKE the officers were arrested yesterday by @DCI_Kenya Detectives following the broadcast of a video showing a woman whipped and dragged on a motorcycle in the southern sub-county of Kuresoi.
The suspects are in police custody and are participating in further investigations into the case pic.twitter.com/yx4eXA8a9D
– DCI KENYA (@DCI_Kenya) June 11, 2020
The woman was allegedly charged with breaking into the home of a police officer.
The Independent Police Supervisory Authority (IPOA) issued a statement saying it had opened an investigation into the case.
The incident occurred in the midst of an outcry over police brutality in Kenya, where law enforcement officials have often been accused by rights groups of using excessive force, especially in poor neighborhoods.
Protesters rushed to the streets of Nairobi on Monday after the IPOA announcement police were involved in the murder of at least 15 people from the application of a twilight to dawn curfew to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am here to protest against our young people who died at the hands of the police without any wrongdoing,” said Rahma Wako, a protester from the capital’s Mathare settlement. “We say, ‘Enough is enough’. As mothers, many of our young people were killed when they were labeled as thieves. ”
” [We are] telling them to stop killing our children, “added Beatrice Rongo, another protester. Mothers cry, sisters, everyone – we are all hurt by this injustice of police brutality. “
“What about African lives?
In recent days, cities around the world have witnessed massive protests against police violence and racism caused by the murder of George Floyd’s police in the United States on May 25.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned to the ground by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The officer, who has since been fired and charged with murder, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe.”
– gathara (@gathara) June 6, 2020
Activists in Kenya have turned to social media to draw parallels to the country’s own scourge of police violence, which has generally gone unpunished.
Prominent Kenyan commentator and cartoonist Patrick Gathara drew a picture last week of a man representing African governments holding up a “Black lives matter” sign, kneeling on the neck of a man asking, “What about African lives? ”
In April, Human Right Watch (HRW) accused police of imposing a curfew “in a chaotic and violent manner from the start”, by whipping, kicking and tear gas to force them to leave the street.
He describes the case of 13-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo, who died in Nairobi on March 31 after being shot dead while standing on his balcony while police forced people to go home on the street below.
In others, a tomato vendor died in west Kakamega after being hit by a tear gas canister, while four men were beaten to death in different parts of the country.
“It is shocking that people are losing their lives and livelihoods while supposedly being protected from infection,” said Otsieno Namwaya, HRW senior researcher for Africa, at the time.
In a February report detailing the killings of at least eight people in poor Nairobi neighborhoods, HRW said police “continue to cold-blood suspects and protesters despite persistent calls to end the killings and the use of excessive force ”.
Interior Minister Fred Matiangi criticized police excesses on Friday but “objected to painting the entire service with the same paintbrush,” his office said in a statement.
It came after the IPOA announced that six police officers would be arrested and prosecuted – one for the death of Moyo; another for shooting a high school teacher while responding to a burglary in a market in western Siaya; and four others for severely assaulting a man during an arrest.