A tearful Helida Atieno displays a worn out pair of jeans and slippers in front of her mud-walled hut in Nyakach, Kisumu County.
She treasures the two items as they belonged to her son Kevin Onyango, who was killed in cold blood in January.
Ms Atieno alleges her son was murdered by a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldier more than a fortnight ago and that police were attempting a cover-up.
“They should be treated as exhibits if indeed the police are serious about getting to the bottom of this matter. They are part of what he was wearing on the day he met his death,” she says.
For more than two weeks now, the widow and her relatives have taken trips to Pap Onditi Police Station in pursuit of justice for Mr Onyango, whom according to the officers there, was killed by a mob after a botched robbery.
The events that led to the man’s death began on January 15.
Twenty seven-year-old Abisae Nyaoke Odongo heard thugs breaking into the nearby Sigoti Hill Top Pub within Sigoti Shopping Centre from the rear door.
He raised the alarm so members of the public responded and cornered one Daddy Abongo, 30, beating him senseless, according to a report by the local police.
The pub is reportedly owned by the family of the soldier who has been identified as Michael Onyango Odongo.
Reached for comment on the allegations, Mr Odongo said, “There are rumours all over. I have nothing to say to you.”
Ms Atieno’s family refutes the police claims of mob justice, saying the story was “cooked” as part of efforts to help the suspect avoid the long arm of the law.
They have taken issue with the name of the victim as stated in the police report, saying he was Kevin Onyango, not Daddy Abongo.
They also claim the incident happened on January 14 at about midnight, not at 8.30am the next day as police said in their report.
Ms Atieno narrates that her son returned home at about 11pm that Monday and found Mr Odongo standing behind one of the houses in the compound.
“He came home late and found Mr Odongo inside the compound so he asked him what he was doing there at that time of the night,” she says.
“Mr Onyango started chasing Odongo away and that was the last time we saw him alive.”
The following morning, they found the trousers and slippers her son had been wearing at his door but he was nowhere to be seen.
The family’s search for Mr Onyango led them to Nyakach Sub-county Hospital, fondly referred to as Pap Onditi, where they said they found his body with several cuts on the hands and legs and a stab wound on the side of the stomach.
Hospital Superintendent Anfield Agwanda said Mr Onyango was taken to the facility in a critical condition and that he died while being treated.
“He was able to talk when he came though his condition was critical. Medical interventions were done but he succumbed later,” said the medic.
The body was found at the facility’s mortuary with the legs tied up with strings.
Photographs seen by the Nation are of him prostrated, in a white shirt and white underwear and with blood stains on the right side of the stomach.
Mr Onyango’s family, however, believes the strings were added after he was killed.
Police said the man was killed about 40 metres from Ms Atieno’s home but she questions why she did not hear any commotion and why there was no witness, especially if the incident took place in the morning as they were told.
“The report by police does not add up because my home is a few metres from where they say my son was lynched. Further, I was awake by the time police claim the incident happened. I would have heard noises or someone would have informed me,” she says.
Questions also surround the presentation of stolen items were as exhibits as the so-called break-in did not happen.
They family further claims that when they reported the incident at Pap Onditi Police Station a day later, they were referred to the Divisional Criminal Investigating Officer but he didn’t give them an Occurrence Book number despite taking their statement.
Further, the police report says the victim had been in white trousers, a white vest and a white shirt. Mr Onyango’s uncle George Oginga argues the theft theory can’t stand as it is unlikely anyone can wear white clothing on a burglary mission.
The family insists the robbery theory was made up to shield murderers as the suspects remain at large.
A post-mortem by both the family and government pathologist found that the cause of death was “a circulatory collapse”.
The examination also found that Mr Onyango suffered 20 extensive soft tissue injuries in an assault.
A plastic drum, a chair and a panga were among the items police listed in the brief of what they recovered from the crime scene.
The family, however, accuses Mr Odongo of planting them at the scene.
Contacted by the Nation for comment, Nyakach divisional police commander Henry Malova said, “Tell them (the family) to come and see me so that I can assist them.”
Ms Atieno and her relatives say they will not bury Mr Onyango until they find out what happened.
Suspects were arrested moment after the family accused police of a cover-up.
The KDF officer, Mr Nyaoke Odongo and Mr Sylvester Oyoo were arrested on Friday night and arraigned at the Kisumu High Court on Monday.
However, they did not plead to the murder charges preferred against them since they had not undergone mental assessments.
Senior Resident Magistrate Angie Odawo remanded Mr Odongo and Mr Nyaoke Odongo to Kodiaga Prison and Mr Oyoo to Central Police Station since he is a minor.
“The second suspect should undergo age assessment before they take the pleas on February 7,” she said
By Daily Nation