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Baby Pendo parents move crowd with peace plea

By George Kebaso
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Pendo’s mother Lencer Achieng’ recounts at Bomas of Kenya yesterday how she lost her baby to police brutality in 2017. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude
In summary
    • I want to ask politicians, please be mindful of what you say when you come to us.
    • Kenyans should be allowed to read the report and make a decision. Politicians who lose elections should accept results.
    • Let the blood of my child be the last time blood is shed because of divisive elections.

George Kebaso @Morarak

“A flower was uprooted from my garden and it can never be replaced… I can be given another person but not like Pendo,” these are the words of Lencer Achieng’, the mother of six-month-old, Samantha Pendo who was fatally clobbered by police in Kisumu town, during the 2017 post-election violence.

Fighting back tears, Achieng’ made a passionate plea to politicians not to use ordinary Kenyans as pawns in their political game.

“No woman should cry for her child,” she added as the auditorium fell silent for a few seconds before exploding into an applause.

Pendo’s death epitomised police brutality and divisive politics that are the hallmark of Kenyan elections.

In about 10 minutes, Achieng’ and her husband, Joseph Abanja put a face to the ills the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, that was unveiled yesterday was trying to address.

Peace and tolerance

The mother and father, who said they have never recovered from the pain of losing their daughter, however called for peace and tolerance. 

It was the 2017 poll violence that led to the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, which eventually  gave rise to the BBI initiative.

“I want to ask politicians, please be mindful of what you say when you come to us,” an emotional Achieng’ said.

The couple said the proposed reforms in the report will ensure peace and stability in the country.

“Kenyans should be allowed to read the report and make a decision. Politicians who lose elections should accept results. Even on the BBI report, let us read for ourselves and let us vote Yes or No, as we find appropriate,” Achieng’ said.

She asked Kenyans to check and filter whatever comes out of their mouths.

“When you are coming to us chunga vitu zinatoka kwa ulimi zenu. Msifanye tupigane halafu wewe unasonga mbele na maisha yako  (be careful when talking to Kenyans during your campaigns. Please don’t make us fight each other as you move on),” she said.

Abanja, applauded the Handshake, saying  the country has been peaceful.

 “Let the blood of my child be the last time blood is shed because of divisive elections,” he said.

Abanja also asked the government to support their family during their trying times.

Naomba Rais Uhuru vile mmeshikana na Raila msiachane. Naona BBI italeta mabadiliko kwa maisha yetu. Rais kumbuka familia ya Baby Pendo msituache hivo. Mumetuacha tunateseka (Uhuru and Raila, hold onto the Handshake. BBI is a gamechanger in our lives. President Uhuru, don’t leave us in pain and agony. When we are aggrieved...look at how the victims are fairing on,” he said.

He said Kenyans are good people, and should not allow politicians to deceive them.

Baby Pendo was killed when police stormed their home in Kisumu at the height of the 2017 post-election chaos. 

The family was forced out of their house by a tear gas canister that was lobbed by police. They landed into the hands of police, who unleashed violence upon them.

Achieng’, who was carrying baby Pendo was not spared and one of the blows landed on the baby, killing her.

An inquest in February 2019 found five police commanders liable for the death of baby Pendo.

A magistrate heading the inquest said there was sufficient evidence, that Pendo succumbed to injuries inflicted on her by members of the police service, who were responding to protests in Nyalenda following the declaration of the presidential election results on August 11, 2017.

An autopsy conducted at the Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on August 17, 2017, revealed that Pendo suffered acute head injuries, her scalp cracking as a result of police brutality.