Last Wednesday,I was delivering a training program in Malaba, near Uganda, to parents of children with disabilities.I was encouraging parents to interact with their children with speech and language problems in order to further stimulate the children's language skills
I was on my way to the bathroom in the compound, when I turned the corner and confronted an angry group of young men, whipping a younger boy on the back with car tyres. An older man was laughing in the corner at the spectacle. I found out later that the boy had apparently stolen some roofing from a nearby shop. The owner of the hotel where I was was staying, paid local youths to kill him and they decided to carry out the torture in the grounds of the hotel where I was staying
The boy appeared intellectually disabled. Gripped by panic and fear, he was wailing loudly and unable to articulate at the thought of his imminent death.
The crowd was getting more and more animated. When I returned from the bathroom, the situation was getting out of control. One man was charging at the boy with a shovel.
This is when I decided to intervene.
I could not let them beat a man with a disability to death in front of me when I was giving a lecture next door on valuing people with disabilities.
I ran towards the man with the shovel, pleading and shouting at him to stop.
A woman crept up toward me, giggling quietly, and whispered in my ear. She explained to me that the boy was a thief and this was how Kenyans dealt with petty theft- by handing down a death sentence and dealing with it themselves
The police were not called.There was no need. They would deal with this themselves.
The owner protested that the policeman would ask him why he had not killed him.
The mob were getting more fired up and took off towards the back of the hotel.The boy was bleeding on his head as one man had hurled the shovel at him and hit him on the head. He was also bleeding inside his shirt from the public whipping
I continued to follow them, with my bosses looking on in silence and complacence. This is the system here, they said, despite it being illegal.
I continued to plead with the owner to take him to the police so they could investigate the matter. Eventually the owner agreed to take him to the police
I screamed at the owner saying that he himself should be charged with attempted murder..the boy after all was disabled and had stolen a small amount of roofing material, hardly deserving of death by blow to the head with a blunt instrument
He replied that the man was not disabled. He was caught stealing and must be punished. He was simply teaching him a lesson and ordered the mob to stop
'I am saving his life', he protested
I insisted that he in fact was trying to kill him. I was the one trying to save his life
All this time, my boss was laughing, proclaiming that this is Kenya and Marie, you are like an Afican woman, fearless
The crowd simply did not see the benefit of taking him to the police..he would not learn his lesson, he would steal again. Besides the police would beat him also
So there... a day in the life of Marie Fahy in Kenya
And all I wanted to do was go to the toilet!
Kenya is a harsh place and sometimes very barbaric
but then why are there so many Christians heading off to mass every Sunday if, when the whim takes them, they beat a man to death with a shovel for stealing so little
Where is the compassion? It's not very Christian
Innocent people are being lynched not only in Malaba but also in Nairobi. Mob justice is absolutely unethical in African society so why does it continue?
Change can only come when the administrators adhere to and respect the law..Kenya has a long way to go in this repect
The judiciary system, just as other government departments, are riddled with corruption and it is not surprising that people have taken the law in their own hands
Having witnessed firsthand "mob justice" in Kenya, I absolutely condemn this barbaric act which is due to the incapability of the Kenya Police and high level of corruption which sees many criminals walk free after small handouts forcing the public to take the law in their own hands.
I don't believe that Kenyans are bloodthirsty and enjoy killing their compatriots but the justice system here just doesn't seem to work, leaving people with no other option but to take the law into their own hands.
Many law enforcers have failed to deliver and people have to live with the fear that they are not well protected. In other cases law enforcers have forged alliances with criminals and this has reduced the confidence that people have in them. It's time kenyans reviewed the way their law enforcers work, and maybe give them enough resources.
Otherwise many more people will get killed on mere suspicion of having committed a crime.