Police Brutality During COVID-19 in Dandora

By Andrew Myendo

For many years, Dandora residents have been subjected to police brutality and those who are most affected are young people. This problem has not been better especially when the government gave the directives to curb the spread of coronavirus. Even the older generation has not been spared from this problem and they are wondering how to cope and also follow the directives. The police have taken the advantage of this to harass the community to an extent of going to their business even when most of them have complied. In Dandora, we have many drinking joints where most of them do not have licence to operate and the police know this. They therefore frequent these joints to collect bribes either daytime or at night. If the owner does not part with anything, they will come back and arrest both the workers and the patrons. This has earned these bribes the nickname ‘COVID TAXES.’

My friend Kamau told me how he was arrested when he was found in one of the bars and taken to the police station. He then had to part with a thousand shillings to secure his freedom. The way the money was demanded clearly shows that the police are taking advantage of the situation to extort money from the residents. He further told me that they have a pay bill number of an mpesa which is near the police station to withdraw the amount from his phone. He believes  that day, the police collected almost over thirty thousand shillings (30,000/=} The police here in Dandora have crafted a way of extorting money from the residents by instilling fear in them by threatening that they will end up in court. It is not only Dandora alone that they are facing this problem; the neighbouring informal settlements like Korogocho, Ngomongo and Babandogo do face the same challenges.

The government, through the ministry of health should have published the directives in both English and Kiswahili as many of those who are caught do not understand mostly English. Corona pandemic has made many people lose their jobs and for most of them, the only place they think they can go and relieve their stress is in these joints. Yes, most of them are always in the wrong but this should not warrant the police to demand bribes from them. The bar owners are squarely to be blamed because most of them are after making profits and do not care if they follow the guidelines. The police should be at the frontline in trying to help the community in making sure that the places they visit {drinking joints} have things like sanitizers and offer masks. Social distance spaces should be clearly labelled. 


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