Lamu, KENYA: Residents of Mpeketoni, Lamu county and neighboring areas have accused KDF soldiers undertaking the Linda Boni security operation of harassment.
Those who spoke to Baraka FM on Friday said the soldiers have been humiliating them whenever they conduct their daily night patrols in the area.
Area MCA James Komu has asked Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to intervene and have the soldiers stop harassing locals for no apparent reason.
He said the daily complaints from his ward about the numerous cases of harassment by KDF had become too much and called on the CS to do something.
“These guys beat you if they encounter you on the road from 8 pm onwards yet as far as we know, there is no curfew here or law that prohibits one from moving around at that time. Plus they are not the kind to listen to explanations. It’s inhumane what they do to people,” said Komu.
Simon Kimani said he was forced to drink dirty water in a ditch when he came across the soldiers as he headed home at around 8.30pm days ago.
“They asked me where I was from and I told them I was from work heading home, that was around 8.30. They just laughed loudly and asked me to lie flat in a ditch and drink the dirty water there. I thought they were joking but I know them too well, they derive pleasure in harassing and so I did what they asked. It was the most humiliating thing in my entire life,” said Kimani.
Residents are now seeking a clear explanation on the situation and are also demanding to know if there is a curfew they are expected to observe.
Mwangi wa Ciru says they feel unfairly targeted even as the Linda Boni operation progresses in the quest to eliminate Al shabaab in Lamu.
“Some weeks ago, I met them as I left my house to go to a shop at around 8pm. They whipped me thoroughly and made me run back to my house like a small child. It was very humiliating. All we want to know is if there is any law we are breaking. That kind of treatment is unnecessary. They should stick to their job and let us live peacefully,” said Mwangi.
Many residents of Mpeketoni now within a self-imposed curfew where they all ensure they are in their homes by 6 pm.
“Woe unto those who can’t make it home by then and by bad luck come across these soldiers. What they go through only God knows,” he added.
When contacted for comment on the matter, KDF spokesperson David Obonyo denied that the KDf was harassing locals and insisted that the soldiers believe in cultivating a good relationship with members of the public so as to ease their operations.
Obonyo revealed that last Wednesday, a meeting was held between the KDF and the locals including bodaboda operators and opinion leaders and that no one raised such an issue.
“During the meeting, the only complaint was that police were frustrating people by demanding bribes. Nothing was raised against the KDF. Soldiers cant harass, it’s not part of the mandate or even training. Maybe our counterparts in the national police service can be asked about the harassment,” said Obonyo.