Torture and Killing in Meru National Park

On the morning of 12th May 2020, Musa Samo left his home to tend to his livestock and was never to return to his wife and children. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Officers from the Meru National Park killed the 36-year-old herder. A post mortem later showed Samo had been tortured and shot multiple times.

The officers claimed that Samo was killed during an exchange of fire, but the motorbike rider who ferried Samo that morning says the KWS had laid an ambush on him.

The rider - who sought anonymity for fear of his life - told IFA that upon reaching Goticha area, 6kms from Kinna Centre, he spotted KWS officers hiding in the surrounding bush. They had barricaded the road, which is used daily by herders and women fetching firewood. Kinna Town, in Isiolo South Constituency, Isiolo County, is predominantly occupied by the Borana Community.

KWS officers shot at the motorbike. After the shooting, they dragged Samo aside leaving the rider to flee on foot. He says they shot at him as he fled for his life. It was 9.45 am.

The KWS officers kept Samo captive for 6 hours before he was found dead.

When Samo was traced by members of the community, they crowded around KWS officers demanding to know why Samo had been killed. According to Suleiman Ahmed, a resident of Kinna, KWS Officers cocked their guns at the crowd. Ahmed and other locals had found them loading Samo’s corpse into the back of a Police Vehicle.

And as if that was not enough, they placed the abandoned motorbike on the corpse while taking it to the mortuary. The dead also need respect”, said Mr. Ahmed.

A post-mortem done at Nyambene Sub-County Hospital revealed the body had first-degree burns inflicted by a hot object. His face had a bullet entry hole on the left maxilla area that exited on the right mastoid process. His left arm had three bullet wounds, and his left humerus bone was completely fractured.

The report further indicated that his left limb femur was completely displaced with left knee dislocation. His right femur was also fractured. Samo died of excessive haemorrhaging caused by multiple bullet wounds.

Samo’s wife of ten years Fatuma Kampo, received news that evening that ‘a bandit’ had been killed by KWS officers; she never thought it was her husband. The grieving widow is now left in confusion and destitution to fend for herself and her children.

Many men from Kinna have disappeared without a trace in the past few years, with the KWS claims of poaching.

Another person living close to Hawa Bonaya Park says many children have been left as orphans and women widowed due to the atrocities committed by the KWS officers from Meru National Park.

The government has done little to address or investigate these audacious abuses – which have a long history. In 2015, one person was killed and 11 others seriously injured in Kinna, after KWS officers fired live bullets at demonstrators. Residents were demonstrating accusing the KWS of abducting three community members. They demonstrated at the Meru National Park main gate, after a week of searching for the three.

Samuel Chirro, officer-in-charge of Kinna Police Post, under Laare Police Station, later stated that Samo was killed after he fired at the KWS officers, who had asked him to stop. He also said that KWS officers under the command of Corporal Caleb Momanyi, recovered one AK47 rifle with 49 rounds of ammunition and 9 stones of bhang (Cannabis Sativa) from Musa Samo.

According to the motorbike rider, he and Samo were neither armed nor had any bhang with them.

Story by IFA Isiolo Team

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