Just take a few minutes to read of the ‘lynching’ of eleven people in six incidents reported in Kenya’s newspapers over the last month, before those who died pass forever into oblivion, and then consider the implications of the manner in which they died. These are not all the killings by mob ‘justice’ that have been reported over that time and many others go unreported.
Two pastors who were mistaken for robbers were ‘lynched’ at Jomvu in Changamwe District; an alleged mugger was beaten to death last week in Meru.
Two suspected thieves, one a preacher, the other a doctor, were killed by a mob in Jitoni village, Mombasa.
Another mob killed an airport worker in Embakasi after a woman falsely raised the alarm claiming he was a thief (he was in fact her lover and they had had a disagreement).
Two murder suspects were killed in Athiru division, Igembe South district, as they were being taken by a mob to the local chief’s camp.
Over in Igembe North District a 67 year-old man was stoned to death on suspicion of defiling a minor.
In Burinda village, Busia County, a man suspected of stealing a boda boda motorcycle was stoned to death by angry villagers.
And two late-teenage young men were put to death by a mob at Mutunyi trading centre in Buuri District, Meru, for attempting to hijack a matatu.
GUILTY AS CHARGED?
Three of those killed were definitely not guilty of any great crime, they were just falsely identified as criminals either by accident or design.
Two were certainly guilty of a crime but they had not been apprehended by the police, they had not been charged and they had not been found guilty in a court of law.
The others were all ‘suspects’ but no evidence was brought against them and they too were not afforded justice through the due process of law.
ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?
We can put down this mob mentality that leads to so many deaths in Kenya every year to ignorance, or the failure of the police to protect the people but all the same it is still murder.
We can comfort ourselves too that the mob killings are the work of the common people, not us sophisticated types here in Kenya’s capital city.
Now think however, of how often you have read in a learned article in a national newspaper that so-and-so who has been charged, or even just ‘adversely mentioned’, must now prove himself or herself innocent. The truth is, of course, that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the alleged wrongdoer is guilty. Unless and until that is done the suspect is innocent under law, natural justice and our country’s constitution.
On our streets, through the columns of our newspapers and the pronouncements of politicians and civil society activists, there is altogether far too much mob injustice taking place in Kenya.