Bernard Chege, 26, the survivor of a strange police shooting in which his friend, Ms Janet Waiyaki, was killed, on Sunday narrated how the two officers ignored his pleas to help save Ms Waiyaki’s life.
The officers, Administration Police Constable William Chirchir from Makadara Police Station and another AP constable, Mr Godfrey Kirui, from Industrial Area Police Station, fired 15 bullets into the vehicle at a popular spot in the city’s Parklands.
What the two officers were doing, allegedly on duty, so far from their beats and in the area under the jurisdiction of Parklands Police Station, remains unexplained.
City Park is a popular hangout where young revellers relax in their cars chewing miraa and drinking especially in the evenings and on weekends. Policemen have been reported to tap on car windows, soliciting for money, before proceeding to the next car.
On the tragic Sunday morning and out of character, Mr Chege decided to ignore the police, started the car and began to drive off. The two APs opened sustained fire, killing Ms Waiyaki, a mother of three, and leaving Mr Chege in need of blood and nursing injuries at Avenue Park Hospital.
According to Mr Chege they were “relaxing” at the spot he had frequented before the incident.
“I have never been shot before. This is like a movie to me. When I was shot, I tried to apply pressure on the wound. It was very painful. I begged the cops to give me a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding, they didn’t want to help,” Mr Chege said from his hospital bed.
That account differs sharply with that of the police, except for the back-end where police opened fire after Mr Chege refused to open the door and started to drive off.
Police claim the two were “in a compromising situation” in the car, but Mr Chege says “there is nothing like that”. Ms Waiyaki’s family suspects foul play and has vowed to pursue the matter to find out exactly what transpired that fateful day.
Police say they were alerted by Mr Eustace Mureithi, a guard, to the presence of car that had been parked in the same place for hours.
“The officers went and found a Toyota Fielder KBX 515H parked in the forested area with all windows closed.
“They knocked on the tinted windows, but there was no response and all of a sudden, the vehicle sped off towards the road,” the report sent to the police headquarters by Parklands police boss Chief Inspector Moses Shikuku said.
The police report states that the vehicle was shot at by the two officers who had firearms serial numbers 60034428 and 5901067.
“The vehicle then stopped and inside were a male and a female namely Bernard Chege, 26 years old and Janet Wangui Waiyaki aged 41 years. They had gunshot wounds,” the report said.
The two were taken to Avenue Hospital where the woman was pronounced dead on arrival and the man is being treated. Their vehicle was towed to Parklands Police Station.
After the incident, all six officers involved, including those who did not shoot, had their firearms withdrawn.
On Sunday, Mr Chege’s family took to social media to plead for well-wishers to donate blood for him.
Nairobi County Police Commander Joseph ole Tito said the car became suspicious after it had stayed in the thicket for too long. “We are currently on high alert following reports of an impending Al-Shabaab attack during the Ramadhan period. We are not taking chances on security. But these officers became overly reactive,” Mr Tito said, adding that investigations into the incident had begun.
Considering that the officers had opened fire killing an innocent woman and injuring a young man driving his mother’s car, that will likely go down as a major understatement.
Kenyans on social media criticised police officers for the shooting, asking the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of the officers involved.
Family members who to spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity quoted witnesses saying the car arrived at the park between 9.15am and 9.30am, roughly 45 minutes before the 10am shooting.
“How long is a vehicle supposed to be parked somewhere before it can be declared suspicious?” asked one of Ms Waiyaki’s relatives. They are questioning why officers from Eastlands were on “routine patrol” in the park, surrounded by police stations. They also want the police to disclose who tipped off the officers about Ms Waiyaki and Mr Chege’s whereabouts believing there is a hidden motive in the shooting.
The police report claimed that both occupants were half-naked at the time of the incident. However, the family of Ms Waiyaki are asking why she was taken to the City Mortuary half-naked (with only her top) and Mr Chege was fully dressed when he was taken to the hospital.
“Janet was in the back seat. The police want us to believe that Chege had enough time to dress up, belt up and jump from the back seat to the driver’s seat and start driving before they could open fire. Does that mean Janet could not have worn her clothes too?” one of Ms Waiyaki’s relatives asked.
The black car is said to be owned by Mr Chege’s mother. From photos seen by the Nation, the car has two bullet holes at the rear where relatives said Ms Waiyaki was seated. Could she have been a target? Ms Waiyaki’s family is also questioning why police shot at the rear door of the car if their intention was to stop it.
“If you want a vehicle to stop, you either aim at the tyres or shoot the driver. The tyres were not targeted in the shooting,” said a relative.
Interestingly, Ms Waiyaki and Mr Chege are actually related. Mr Chege is the nephew of Ms Waiyaki’s husband. Family members said whenever Ms Waiyaki did not have a car, she often relied on Mr Chege to take her on errands. At the time of the incident, they said Ms Waiyaki’s car had broken down. “It was not the first time they were together,” said a family member, intimating that the two were “very close confidants”.
The family of Ms Waiyaki described her as a bubbly and outgoing mother of three young children aged 13, four and two years. Ms Waiyaki was the second wife of a businessman and was working at one of her husband’s several businesses, a phone accessory shop on Tom Mboya Street.
Lying in his Intensive Care Unit bed, Mr Chege spoke to visitors with difficulty despite seeming to be in high spirits. He is allowed only two visitors at a time but managed to speak to the Nation for a few minutes. Mr Chege says there was “nothing going on” between him and Ms Waiyaki. Both families have vowed to pursue the matter to find out what transpired.
In the ICU, Chege spoke to his best friend in the presence of the Nation team and likened the entire situation to a “movie”.
“I hear that they are saying there was an affair between the two of us…there is nothing like that. I am told that the story is already in the papers. What are they saying about us? Is she okay? I know she is dead…please tell me the truth…What are the media reports saying about us? My friend…I am telling you this is like a movie…you know the movies we watch and see people get shot? I begged the cops to give me a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding they didn’t want to help. I am very thirsty. I can’t talk much, it makes my mouth dry. Can you get me some water, please? Is Janet alive? Tell me the truth. Tell my mother I don’t want more visitors.” -Nation