A public inquest seeking to establish how six-month-old Samantha Pendo met her death in August last year is scheduled to start next month before a Kisumu court. The case was to be mentioned yesterday before Chief Magistrate Julius Ng’arng’ar but was pushed to February 16 by Kisumu Resident Magistrate Beryl Omollo.
The development comes after a public inquest file was opened at the Kisumu magistrate’s court following an order by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
Baby Pendo suffered head injuries during riots that rocked Kisumu following the announcement of the August 8 presidential election results. S
he went into a coma and died on August 15 at the Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu. ODPP gave the directive to open a public inquest into the incident after investigations by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) failed to arrive at a conclusion.
IPOA in its report indicated that it was difficult to identify the killers as the accusations against the police were blanket. Pendo’s family said police officers hit her on the head when they stormed into their home during the riots.
The ODPP’s directive had also recommended that senior officers in command during the incident face disciplinary action and further ordered for compensation of the bereaved family for emotional and physical torture experienced during and after the attack.
“The National Police Service Commission should institute disciplinary proceedings against the commanders in question for being negligent and particularly for failing to coordinate the police operation in question, thereby making it difficult for the identity of the police officers who committed criminal acts to be known and ultimately impeding IPOA’s investigation,” read part of the report.
According to the court file on the inquest, 21 witnesses including the baby’s parents Joseph Abaja and Lenser Achieng and other nine civilians have been lined up to testify in the case when its hearing commences.
All the witnesses have recorded statements and are waiting for their day in court to shed light on the incident. The minor’s death drew widespread condemnation of the police both in Kenya and abroad. The police have, however, denied any involvement in Pendo’s death.