A 23-year-old bartender in an entertainment establishment christened ‘Nyamira Bar’ in Kwale County has died in unclear circumstances with relatives blaming the police for his death.
Erick Nthenge, a bartender at a popular bar in Ukunda Township in Msambweni sub-county allegedly died after he was assaulted by police officers enforcing the dusk-to-dawn curfew declared to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Edith Waithera a relative told journalists that the victim met his death after police officers on night patrol burst into ‘Nyamira bar’ and assaulted patrons and revelers.
A distraught Waithera said the bar was locked from inside but police officers attracted by the noise coming from the entertainment joint demanded those inside open the doors but nobody opened for them.
She said the cops persistently knocked on the locked front door without success before they forced their way in.
“After those inside failed to open police officers lobbed teargas canisters and broke the doors and started clobbering senselessly those found inside,” she said.
The tragic incident which happened last evening at about 8 pm caused a stampede as some even jump through the bar roof to escape, leading to injuries.
She said her unconscious relative was pronounced dead on arrival at a private hospital in Tiwi location where they rushed him in critical condition.
However, contacted for comment Msambweni sub-county police commander Nehemiah Bitok disputed the narration by relatives that the victim was bludgeoned to death by the police.
Bitok said there was pandemonium at the bar as revelers ran helter-skelter to escape the police dragnet.
“What we know is that when police lobbed teargas into the bar to smoke out those inside all hell broke loose as revelers scampered to safety,” he said.
He said the deceased was likely trampled on by those escaping the wrath of the police.
The police chief urged bar owners to respect the covid-19 curfew and ensure that their business premises remain closed day and night.
A local human rights activist Francis Ouma accused police officers of acting with impunity and disregarding the rule of law since the curfew was declared a week ago.
Ouma who is the rapid response officer with Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) accused local police bosses of withholding vital information concerning the circumstances under which the deceased met his death.
The body of the deceased has been moved to Kwale referral hospital to undergo postmortem.
Last month the government ordered the closure of all bars and nightclubs as some of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (covid-19).
By Hussein Abdullahi