An octogenarian mother who collapsed while trying to collect the ‘shadow’ of her dead son in Mombasa has been discharged from hospital.
Esther Ouma arrived in Mombasa on Thursday morning to collect the ‘shadow’ of Caleb Espino, who was fatally beaten while in custody at Changamwe police station in September last year.
Collecting the remains, the ‘shadow’ of a dead person is a Luo ritual. It is meant to bring closure to the bereaved family.
Muslims for Human Rights has criticised the police for delaying justice for her and Espino’s young family.
No one has been arrested despite overwhelming evidence of torture on Espino’s body as indicated in autopsy reports.
Speaking on Friday, Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa said it is unfair that almost a year after his death, no one has been arrested for the murder of Espino, then a 42-year-old tout fending for his wife and four children.
He died on September 18 at Changamwe police station.
He was being held at the station after he, alongside two others including a friend and a liquor vendor, were arrested the previous day at the White Castle Bar in Changamwe during a swoop on illicit drinking dens.
According to witness statements collected by the Independent Police Oversight Authority and Muslims for Human Rights, Espino was tortured for hours by two police officers at the station.
“Espino had been handcuffed from behind when the cops punched, kicked, clobbered and stepped on him countless times,” Khalifa said.
Ouma was overwhelmed by emotions when he stepped into her third-born’s house in Mikindani to start the rituals to collect his shadow, just hours after her arrival.
She collapsed and was rushed to a nearby health facility.
Ouma had travelled from Siaya county with four friends and relatives.
They had prepared food and were about to start the rituals when she collapsed.
“Espino was her favourite child because he was the one who helped her the most. Now she remains with two sons and two daughters,” Patrick Okuyosi, Espino’s uncle, said at the Muhuri offices.
Khelef said despite the overwhelming evidence, the two officers responsible for Espino’s death are still at large.
The lobby asked what lawful actions the authorities have taken against the alleged murderers. They wrote to Mombasa county police commander Johnston Ipara on March 22 this year.
“He referred us to IPOA, who then directed us to the Director of Public Prosecutions. They all had an equal response – investigations are at an advanced stage,” Khalifa said.
Friday marked 297 days since Espino’s death.
“His children are devastated, his mother depressed and traumatised. Why is this process taking too long and why is justice not being served to Espino’s family?” Khalifa asked.
He said they will institute private prosecution against the police officers involved in Espino’s death.
When contacted by the Star, police commander Ipara asked for time to get all the facts right.
He was yet to get back to the Star by press time.