Tena residents reel from teargas, battles with police

Wednesday November 29 2017

Umoja Nasa demos

A woman raises her hands as anti-riot police flush out Nasa supporters who had taken cover in a kiosk Umoja to escape teargas during demonstrations on November 28, 2017. A day later, residents said the effects of the teargas could still be felt. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

By STELLA CHERONO
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Residents of Tena Estate along Manyanja Road have recounted the horror of the running battles between police and a crowd that intended to assemble at the Jacaranda Gardens.

Even though an uneasy calm has been restored in the area, residents who were helping one another to repair their businesses, said they had not recovered from the effects of the chaos.

They said the smell of tear gas thrown by anti-riot police on Tuesday is still in their houses.

On the streets, tyres burnt by youths who were stopped from attending a memorial meeting that was to take place at the Jacaranda Garden could still be seen.

MEMORIAL SERVICE

Nasa leaders were to preside over the memorial service that was meant to remember people who were allegedly killed in the chaos that rocked Nairobi during the arrival of Mr Raila Odinga from the US.

But police had warned Nasa that they would not be allowed to converge at the grounds on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were being sworn in.

The pungent smell of teargas still rented the air, sending residents to tears and sneezing every time the wind wafted it towards them.

Residents said police officers forced their way into their houses claiming that they were looking for looters.

TEARGAS

"When teargas was thrown at us while Mr Odinga was speaking, we dispersed but some men were still determined to fight with the policemen. We entered our houses and some people went into business premises located by the roadside," a resident, Dorothy Akoth, said.

She alleged that policemen kicked open some of the iron-sheet walled premises and asked people to get out as they beat them with batons.

"A teargas canister was thrown into the backdoor of my house. And all the gas spread into my house. All my children have been sneezing since yesterday and they have running noses," she said.

Another woman, who was captured being forced out of a food kiosk dressed in a sleeveless pink dress, said she sustained several injuries on her head, thighs, hips and legs after being beaten by police.

"I had run to hide in that kiosk because some youths who had raided my shop were looting and they had threatened to even rape me if I did not get out.

"But when I was hiding, I heard gunshots and then suddenly the whole kiosk was full of people. The police came later and forced us out," Aucillia Okoth said.

BUSINESSES CLOSED

The residents said their businesses remained closed for the better part of the day, denying them their daily earnings.

Some traders claimed that the youths who were demonstrating broke into their shops and took some items before the police dispersed them.

“We had not gone out of our houses since 8am because there were so many policemen outside and since I have a small baby, I did not want to go outside to even check on my shop. A neighbour called me later and told me that the refrigerator that is usually located outside the shop had been broken and all the sodas had been taken,” a trader, Damaris Mutheu said.

She said the youths destroyed street lights and a billboards that were erected along the road and also the clock that was erected at the Tena roundabout.