Police homicide/suicide cases on the rise in Kenya

By Winfridah Muthee

Every homicide is presumed to be unlawful except where circumstances make it excusable or where it has been authorized by the law.

Every accused person is innocent until proven guilty,but what happens when the person responsible for another’s death also takes his own life? Investigators are likely not to know the killer’s motive and that means the victim will never get justice as the accused is also dead.

Policing is one of the most stressful of professions.

Police officers are considered to be at increased risk for suicide, and such self-aggression may be extended to others.

On 6th Dec 2020 a police officer and his wife were found dead in Kwale in a suspected murder and suicide case.The policeman from the Criminal Intelligence Police Unit was attached to Lunga Lunga Police Station where he lived with his wife at the police quarters where their bodies were found. Bodies of the two had gunshot wounds and it was believed the officer shot the woman before he turned the gun on himself. A pistol and three spent cartridges were found at the scene.

The recent case of a GSU officer who shot his wife dead then turned the weapon to himself leaving two children orphaned has left many with unanswered questions. Sources claim the homicide happened due to infidelity.

This two cases are just an example of the many similar ones that have happened in Kenya.

The killers are then sanitized as men who had never shown any signs of ‘stress’ or as men who could not bear ‘love gone sour’.

This has become a norm such that when such killings take place,we are told that the investigations are underway and we are satisfied then months or years later another similar case occurs.

As Kenyan citizens do we sit and wonder why this killings are taking place,do we even consider if these police officers are having troubles in their marriage or what their line of duty has subjected them to especially exposure to violence in police work causing maybe mental disability that leads to depression? This may be the reason they cause harm to their loved ones and even to themselves.

In majority of the incidences the homicide victim was primarily a spouse or female acquaintance and the primary weapon employed is mostly the police service firearm.

A study by the University of Nairobi on perceptions and causes of suicide among members of the National Police Service in Nairobi County, Kenya shows that the exposure to suicide risk factors such as occupational factors surrounding law enforcement especially workplace stress, frustration and helplessness, poor working environment, traumatic incidences, poor pay and access to firearms predisposed law enforcement agents to suicide ideation and suicide. The study recommended an overhaul of the workplace environment in order to ensure that there is a friendly working environment.

More so, counseling services should be devolved to the police station as the basic level in order to bring mental health closer to the police officers on the ground.

Is the government doing enough to support the men in uniform? I believe not.

The government should work on a strategy to reduce the incidence of violence in the police family.

Frontline police officers often  have to  confront  traumatizing incidents almost  on a  daily  basis which  can  lead to  psychological  and emotional disturbance.

Officers and the public they serve need to be wary of high levels of anxiety, which can be handled through expanded, effective coping strategies such as workplace counselling.

However, Interior and Government Coordination Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i spoke out on the nature of work related issues that uniformed officers go through that need to be addressed.

While condoling with the family of Wakise and Wakasa, Dr Matiang’i said that it was time for the psychosocial challenges the officers get through in line of duty leading were addressed.

“I am deeply pained by the tragic incident involving PC Hudson Wakise and his wife PC Pauline Wakasa both young and vibrant Police officers with brilliant futures tragically ended in their shocking demise. It’s a rude awakening to psychosocial challenges amongst some of our young officers that we have no choice but to now pay greater attention to. My sincere condolences to their families and friends.” CS Matiang’i said on his social media platform.

It will be a matter of time for Kenyans to know if what the no-nonsense, tough speaking and hands on CS said will come to fruition in a bid to curb the cases.

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