For many Kenyans last night, the first night of a nationwide curfew was a completely new experience.
First up were Mombasa residents who bore the painful brunt of police harassment, with travelers tear-gassed and even beaten up by security officers long before the curfew hour hit.
The situation was not different in Kisumu and Eldoret towns as police teargassed Kenyans for flouting the curfew rules.
Photos and clips of police beating up Kenyans who allegedly failed to adhere to the curfew emerged online with netizens condemning the police for using excessive force in handling Kenyans.
Elsewhere, Kenyans attempting to get home before the start of the curfew also faced massive transport inconveniences.
Over the last few hours, leaders across the political divide have strongly condemned the brutality meted out on Kenyans by rogue law enforcement officers who were enforcing a government’s curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus. Led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, the leaders said the action of the police as was witnessed on Friday evening defeated the very purpose of the curfew.
Every law/directive is meant to cure a particular mischief. The curfew is meant to curb the spread of COVID19¬ to torture Kenyans.The security managers are behaving as though they have a grudge against Kenyans&are using COVID19 as an excuse to revenge. It must stop forthwith
— KIPCHUMBA MURKOMEN, E.G.H (@kipmurkomen) March 27, 2020
Kenyans are already economically distressed & now terrified of COVID-19. They need help & guidance. Enforcement of the curfew does not mean terror & brutality to the mwanainchi. Treat the citizenry with civility. pic.twitter.com/K1WhxZ63ST
— Musalia W Mudavadi (@MusaliaMudavadi) March 27, 2020
Joining in on the national conversation was Deputy President William Ruto who on Saturday morning took to his official Twitter account to express his views on the now controversial 7 p.m to 5 a.m curfew.
In his post, Ruto made it clear to the public that the Coronavirus pandemic is no joke; urging them to obey the curfew which the second-in-command insisted was put in place to protect Kenyans and curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Fellow citizens,the corona pandemic is serious,VERY SERIOUS.The GoK curfew (partial lockdown) is meant to curtail movement so as to reduce spread of virus. Us All MUST comply with the terms of curfew without EXCEPTION. Law enforcers MUST act firmly but with restraint & civility.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) March 28, 2020
Responding to the cases of brutality witnessed across the country on Friday evening, Police spokesman Charles Owino rather shockingly defended the officers, saying there was no brutality as being claimed. Speaking on a local TV station, he said the police are well trained and know when to use force and to what extent.