Sharpeville massacre took place in South Africa. Many protesters were killed by police when they were protesting.
Police killing of several black South Africans
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Police opened fire and killed several black South Africans who were fleeing partly because they (the police) feared for their lives and partly because of other reasons known to them.
This incident reminds me of the things I witnessed after the general election that took place in late 2007.
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This was the first time I saw police officers beating innocent people who went to Bansi supermarket (in Migori) to do their shopping.
I remember guns blazing.
And I remember seeing some people who were shot rushed to hospital on boda boda (motorbike taxi).
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Violence was created.
Violence that became obese in weeks.
Violence that made the ordinary Kenyans and police enemies in a way.
Some would say: Kenyans and police officers haven’t been close to each other from the beginning. People fear them. From way back!
Ever seen how most people react in the presence of police officers? It’s as if a dinosaur has suddenly appeared from thin air – breathing fire, like dragons do.
Are Kenyans comfortable around police officers?
Most Kenyans don’t feel comfortable around police officers.
But crime forces them to seek police officers.
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And police officers are on the other hand compelled to perform their duties – law enforcement.
The ordinary Kenyan fear police officers for their violent nature. Something that’s not the case with every officer, but you just know how generalities make even the sanest of people shudder and blow things out of proportion.
Some police officers believe that violence at times makes law enforcement a bit easier. I mean, intimidate an ordinary Kenyan, slap him on both cheeks and things just plain work out.
Problem is, with this method the police officers are prone to consume more lies than ever before.
This has created a big rift between the police officers and the other citizens. And so the two parties try to understand each other. The two parties intimidate each other.
The two parties don’t cooperate with one another as should be the case.
The two parties don’t take their obligations seriously and the two parties violate each other’s rights.
So violence always come to mind when the two parties can’t agree.
After all, when they deal with each other, they come from a position of fear.
There are trust issues to deal with.
Trust issues that at times are deepened even more because of the diversity of people living in Kenya (tribes, politics, class, religion).
A lot of mind reading when both parties try to act all mysterious.
And the struggle of who comes out the winner when all is said and done.
The police use the resources granted to them by the state to perform their duties but sometimes they overstep their boundaries.
And that’s when teargas, batons and guns take over reason.
People get killed and the same script is played almost every year – not only in election times.
What is the government of Kenya doing about police brutality?
But what is the government doing?
What has the government done?
Is the government the reason behind the violence that police officers usually unleash on ordinary citizens?
Yes and no.
The government has the proper resources to train our police officers to respect human rights. It also has the means to compel (or order) the police officers to violate the same rights.
Therefore to prevent Sharperville-style massacres in modern day Kenya, the government needs to think of the people.
To look at their frustrations.
To come up with measures aimed at improving the livelihoods of Kenyans
To train police officers properly and to ensure justice is served whenever an officer involves him/herself in illegal acts.
I think the Kenyan government is already doing all the above, only in small measure.
The government hasn’t done enough yet but this is something it should take seriously, for when the ordinary Kenyans fight with the police, the ordinary Kenyans will triumph but so many lives will be lost.
And that’s what we don’t want – massacres.
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We don’t want massacres.
The government, therefore, has to take this initiative seriously.
Educating the ordinary citizen on how they can address their issues without resorting to violence can also help a lot but this doesn’t work if the government doesn’t listen to what Kenyan families have to say.
This is the way to prevent sharperville-style massacres – training the police properly and educating every citizen the right way.