Murder Scene at Kakuma 1
A Turkana man who stabbed a refugee child to death was killed in mob justice
On the evening of Wednesday 19th February, a local Turkana man deliberately thrust a knife into an 11 year old schoolchild who died on the spot. The local man, who was identified as Lominit Apua from Nabek village, was later caught and beaten to death by angry members of the Didinga community.
The incident took place at Kakuma 1 Zone 2 Block 2 at around 5pm when Lominit, who was believed to be of sound mind, used a razor sharp dagger to stab Ben Lotiki, a South Sudanese Lotuko boy, in the back of the head. The child was learning at Jabel-Marra primary school in the camp as confirmed by the school administration. “The child is our pupil who is learning in standard 2 West, the incident happened outside the school compound but we felt strongly sorry about it,” the school administration told Kanere. According to the administration, four of Ben Lotiki’s classmates have been taken by the police officers on the case to record statements as eyewitnesses to his murder.
According to an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous, the Turkana local assailant was seemingly normal but slowly took hold of the child and stabbed him with a knife in the head and the child died on arrival at the Refugee Hospital. “I was at the scene, the place was very noisy and crowded with drunkard people, and the child was stabbed with a sharp knife and died,” a Lotuko woman told Kanere.
A huge tension built up within the shortest time. Hundreds of block residents came to the scene where the child was murdered. At the first instance the situation was not clear for many people from outside, who were rushing to the scene following confrontations between refugees and members of the host groups. According to another eyewitness the victim had died though the local security people had called the police and ambulance. Many members of the Lotuko–Didinga community turned furious after they learnt that the youngster has died due to the bleeding and decided to take revenge. “The relatives of the child and the residents of the block did not want to cause any harm to the local thug but after they learnt that the boy had died they decided on revenge,” said an anonymous resident at the block. A short while later, the late Lominit Apua was caught while he was attempting to escape and gang beaten. Several people stated that Lominit had already escaped but was caught about 1 km away after he escaped to his residential village.
The huge tensions between the refugees and members of the host community grew worse as people’s tempers rose on both sides. However, the Kenya police was able to intervene in the situation and provided patrols throughout that week.
Kakuma 1 Zone 1 Block 2 area is quite a notorious locality where business in illegal alcoholic drinks and other forms of drug abuse has been common since the establishment of the camp. In February alone more than thirty persons including members of the host community were arrested and charged at Kakuma magistrate’s court for being in possession of illegal alcoholic drinks against the Alcoholics Act (see article “Illicit Brews”).
Ben Lotiki was an orphan after losing both of his parents to the war in South Sudan. The child was since then living with close relatives who took charge of him. Ben Lotiki’s relative who was identified as Susana was unable to communicate with Kanere journalists on the material day due to emotion. “I am strongly saddened by the death of my son at such a tender stage in life” Susana uttered in tears.