A family in Kwa Mwango village in the outskirts of Kilifi town is mourning the death of their daughter, Lucy Dhahabu Kitsao, 32, who died while struggling to put on her mask to avoid being arrested by police.
Kitsao, a mother of a 2-year-old baby girl was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby private hospital on Wednesday.
Speaking at their Kwa Mwango home, Kitaso’s friend Nelvina Nzai narrated that at around 5 pm, a young man alerted them that police officers were approaching their way, causing much panic for the deceased.
“The deceased asked me to accompany her to collect her debts from her customers at Kiwandani. While we were on our way home we met a man who asked us to put on our masks since police officers were ahead of us,” she said.
She said that the man told them that he was running away from the police since he did not have a mask and that he was afraid he would be arrested.
Nzai said that the deceased started struggling to get her mask out of the handbag.
“Kitsao was struggling to get her mask out of the handbag but she could not see it, at some point she wanted to run away but I asked her to take her time and search for the mask,” she said.
She added that the deceased ran into a nearby house and searched for the mask and got it.
However, while still struggling to put it on, she complained of quick heartbeats.
“She held me tight and said that she could feel that the heartbeat was faster and she started coughing blood,” she said.
Nzai said she was rushed to the hospital on a motorbike.
“It was not long as she was being taken to hospital when we saw the police land cruiser around Kavunjeni area in Kiwandani ahead of us packed with people they had arrested,” she added.
Tecla Katana, the mother to the deceased, mourned her daughter and said that she was hardworking despite her medical complications.
“My daughter has been sick all along but she has always worked hard to provide for herself and cater for her treatment, the reason why she died while looking for her money,” she mourned.
The deceased was a tailor and at the same time, she was selling lesos.
“I am still in shock,” she said.
Katana said she adopted the deceased with her sister Joyce Mapenzi after the death of their parents while she was 4 years old.
Her elder sister was 10 years old.
A relative, Stephen Wanje, confirmed that the deceased was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.
“My sister was sick but she was shocked after being informed that police officers were just around her since she did not want to be arrested for not having a mask, “he said.
Wanje said he was bitter with how the police were conducting themselves when enforcing the curfew and mask laws.
“There is no humanity between police officers and members of the public because the officers have made people believe that they are bad by the way they are handling us anytime we meet them,” he said.
He said that the officers always rough them up instead.
Fredrick Katana alias Mzee Kasaga claimed that the deceased had died out of shock due to fear of the police officers.
“Police officers are harassing us, they will arrest you when you are walking alone on the road for not wearing a mask and they will demand money just after they have arrested you. Nowadays there is no need to carry an identification card as long as you have your mask,” said Mzee Kasaga.
He said police have become a threat to the life of members of the public.
According to Mzee Kasaga said the officers start enforcing curfew before 10 pm.
Kilifi North Subcounty Police Commander Mr Jonnathan Koech called on the family to report the matter formally for the police to probe into the matter.
“It is important for an autopsy to be done on the deceased to establish the cause of death,” he said.
He called on the members of the public to report any issues of police harassment and brutality to his office for action.
“As police officers, we want to do our work while respecting human rights and if there is anyone who has been offended to report the matter,” he said.
The sub-County police commander asked the public to abide by the laws, including the Covid-19 protocols to avoid being arrested.
The body of the deceased is at the Milele funeral home in Kilifi town.