Meet Joseph Nzomo Kitoo, a 16-year old boy from Kitavi Center Matinyani Ward, who has been wallowing in the cold dank cells of Kitui Police Station for the past two years!
The boy, who was arrested on 23rd May 2016 from his parents’ home in Matinyani at the tender age of 14, has been living in deplorable conditions; locked up in solitary cells in the Kitui Police Station to date. According to his charge sheet, Nzomo was arrested for allegations of murder two years ago, and although he has been arraigned before the Kitui High Court a number of times, he has never been moved to remand as the law states but has been living in lock up at the Kitui Police Station cells.
Nzomo denies ever murdering his cousin and best friend as alleged, and justifies that the deceased possibly committed suicide owing to the pressure from his parents. He says that it was a plot by his uncle, the deceased cousin’s father, and the local chief to frame the death on him so as to avoid societal blame for the suicide.
Efforts by the Kitui Newspaper investigative team to visit the 16-year old in the police cells were bluntly cut off, with one police officer(who requested anonymity for fear of repercussions) advising that it would be wise to stay away from the matter as, “Huyo ni Kijana wa O.C.S Masinde” (that is the O.C.S Masinde’s project). Mr Masinde is the current Deputy O.C.S at the Kitui Police Station.
But after persistence, coupled with a little deviousness of course, the Kitui Newspaper investigative team went undercover and had a brief face-to-face talk with the Joseph; alongside taking a few photos of him in custody. Later on, the Chief Editor did a phone interview with Joseph Nzomo, after one collaborative police officer on duty allowed the boy to use his mobile phone. Joseph revealed that every effort he’s made to get bail, bond or probation services has never borne fruit; with his state lawyer demanding from him a 50,000 shillings bribe before making the request in court. He also claimed that the Mr. Masinde has always frustrated his efforts to reach either the Children’s office or Probation offices.
After the Kitui Newspaper confronted the deputy O.C.S Mr. Masinde (who has been heading the station until the current O.C.S Mr. Mecha was posted in January this year) on the matter, Joseph notified us later via phone how Mr. Masinde, together with three other police officers, framed him for drug possession in the cells. Joseph claims that the Deputy O.C.S, another officer identified as P.C. Mule, and two other police officers stormed into the cells a day later, ordered all the inmates into one cell, and then proceeded to search the cells. After they were done and left, Mr. Masinde sent P.C. Mule to fetch Joseph and another inmate to his office. Joseph confidently says that he vividly saw the Deputy O.C.S pull out a plastic filled with bhang, the type commonly used by the police to seal evidence, and place it on the table before them. And that is simply how Joseph and his fellow inmate (a boy only identified as Abdio) were charged with drug possession and arraigned in court the next day. This happened in mid-January.
Nzomo insisted that he was framed by Deputy Masinde for speaking to the press. He also vehemently pleaded his innocence, tearfully swearing that he couldn’t have killed his childhood friend and best cousin.
“This is a plot by my uncle to hide the truth about the cause of death of my cousin,” Joseph said. “Now I have watched two of my birthdays pass by uncelebrated in this nightmarish police cell, and I don’t know how many more to come!”
Sniffing back tears, Joseph narrated his sad story: from the last moments with his cousin, the torment of his arrest; to the ordeals he is surfering in the cold dank cells of the Kitui Police Station. He wonders why he has never been taken to remand like the law requires, and accuses his uncle, the deceased boy’s father, of bank-rolling the deputy Mr. Masinde, who was the then O.C.S Kitui Police Station.
Joseph is appealing to well-wishers, human rights activists, and legal representation to step in and help him out of his nightmare, which has lasted for over two years of his juvenile life.
Audio recordings of the phone interviews and personal/contact details of Joseph Nzomo Kitoo can be availed upon request to the chief editor: 0725052525.