EJE Campaign Police Brutality Social Justice Centres Working Group Solidarity

Mathare Social Justice Centre strongly condemns the “visit” of known killer cop Rashid and two police officers to our centre on June 30, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

On Tuesday, June 30 at 11 am, Rashid, the known killer policeman from Pangani police station came to Mathare Social Justice Centre with two of his colleagues; Rashid and one of the other policemen were in civilian clothing and the other police officer was in a full blue suit.

After introducing themselves, they said they had come to “lodge a complaint” against a person called “Ali” who had supposedly been discrediting Rashid on social media. Because of this they demanded to see the leadership of the organization. Jennifer, our administrative officer, and Lucy Wambui, an MSJC human rights monitor, were in the office, and said they did not know Ali. It is important to note that Lucy Wambui’s husband, Christopher “Maich” Maina, was killed by Rashid in 2017. A witness to Maich’s killing was also killed by Rashid in 2018.

After saying they did not know Ali, thereafter Rashid said that he knows that many people come to MSJC to complain about him, and he wants to speak with our leadership to share “his side of the story.” Him and his colleagues also asked for tea, and Rashid emphasized more than three times that he wanted to be served by Lucy Wambui.

As a police officer, Rashid is certainly aware of the legal avenues to lodge a complaint, therefore we consider his request an excuse to enter our space and intimidate us. Above all, since MSJC has been documenting the killings of youth by the police in Mathare since 2015, a large number of these killings which have been done by Rashid himself, we can only interpret his visit to the MSJC office to “lodge a complaint” as a threat to our members.

What’s more, as the Social Justice Centres work on planning the Saba Saba March For Our Lives against police killings, enforced disappearances and all forms of state violence, his visit at this time also counts as intimidation as we build towards this important March.

We demand that the National Police Service ((NPS) and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) take this threat on MSJC seriously. We also urge other relevant grassroots and civil society actors to stand in solidarity with MSJC at this time.

We continue strongly in our commitment to demand justice and dignity for all victims of police violence.

In solidarity,

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)


Police Brutality Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group

MSJC statement after Huruma Police Station Officers threaten Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu

Mathare Social Justice Centre Statement after Huruma Police Station Officers threaten Human Rights Defenders Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu

27 May 2020

Mathare Social Justice Centre strongly condemns the threats directed at three human rights defenders who are members of two social justice centres: Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre (KCJC) and Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC). These activists are: Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu.

These three committed human rights defenders (HRDs) have been involved in human rights activism in Huruma ward and Mathare Constituency as a whole for over a decade. More recently they been involved in demanding justice for Yasin Moyo, the 13-year-old boy killed on his balcony by the police on March 30, demanding answers after the disappearances of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Sibu and Samuel Mungai, and supported the family of 2-month old baby Asnat who required hospitalization and breathing support after the police threw a teargas canister into her house on Friday May 22.

Since they created awareness about these cases, and especially since they took the family of Asnat to Huruma police station to record a statement on Tuesday May 26, these three activists have been receiving threats from officers at the Huruma Police Station.

We demand that the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the National Police Services (NPS) investigate these threats and help maintain the safety of the three activists. In addition, we call on all citizens, activists and organizations who believe in social justice to demand an end to the police victimization of all Kenyans and support grassroots organizations and social justice centres as we work to ensure the safety of Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu. (statement also available here MSJC statement after threats to 3 HRDs – May 27 2020)

In solidarity,

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)



“Death by coronavirus or hunger?” MSJC’s Dennis Orengo on the BBC Food Chain Podcast

One of our ‘field marshals’ at MSJC, Dennis Orengo, was featured in a recent BBC Food Chain Podcast examining the struggles for food that communities in India and Kenya are dealing with, and that are made worse by the pandemic. Orengo talks about how the lockdown in Kenya has impacted many families in poor settlements, and the reality of having to eat only one meal a day. You can listen through this link:


Maji ni Haki/Water Campaign

Water Scarcity in Mathare During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Nyambura Kamau, Coordinator of the Maji ni Haki campaign at MSJC

On March 13th, Kenya reported the first Covid-19 case. In order to stop contracting the disease, people have been advised to wash hands regularly with running water and soap, among other ways like social distancing.  But the term running water in Mathare and entire Eastlands area is a mirage. This poses a challenge as there has been inadequate water supply in the area, the water is only available at least 3 times a week in most wards. However, this is not always the case. Bearing in mind also that the water available is contaminated and therefore not fit for human consumption or useable in anyway. The price of water has hiked from the normal 5 Kenya shillings per 20 litre jerry can to 10-20 shillings.

Water point in Mashimoni area, Mathare. There has been lack of water for a period of 12 years from this point. “Photo/ Nyambura Kamau”

Since post-election violence twelve years ago, the water service provider cut the water supply in almost all the wards in Mathare area. Therefore, the main source of water supply is private in most wards; the water vendors and cartels are involved in supplying water. Yet the plot owners who have water meters are required to pay a standing fee of 407 Kenya shillings monthly. They asked the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company to come disconnect and carry their meter as a solution, however, they were shocked to be asked to pay the standing fee despite them not having the meter. Not only is there inadequate water supply but also the water is contaminated. According to a research Maji ni Haki, Maji ni Uhai (water is life, water is a right) carried out by Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), in 2018 the water was found to be contaminated with bacteria Escherichia coli known as E Coli, which is well known to cause bacterial infections like diarrhea, fever and many more.


Children at Mathare 3A fetching water. Water scarcity has been a norm here during this pandemic. “Photo/ Nyambura Kamau”

Most of the Mathare residents work as casual laborers in Eastleigh, as now it is a hotspot of Covid-19 in Nairobi. Therefore, running water is a necessity as the residents require to wash their hands regularly in order to stop contracting the disease. For example, residents of Kosovo and Huruma have stayed for 4 and 13 days respectively with no water. This is really a big concern and needs to be worked on. “I have to walk to Ruaraka Constituency to fetch water,” says Salim, a resident of Kosovo. According to Alex a worker at a car wash in Kosovo, they sometimes fetch water from Nairobi River and use it to wash the cars. This is not suitable but it’s the best they can do in order for them to earn a daily wage.

“I have to walk to Kiamaiko or any other place to fetch water and carry it myself because relying on the water vendors is double the price that I do not have,” says Elizabeth, a resident of Huruma, where there has been lack of water for at least 2 weeks now. People are wondering where the leaders they elected are since they are nowhere to be seen. Various government officials and well-wishers have donated tanks and soap. This is a good gesture and people are happy, but the thing is the tanks are empty. Lack of water has been so rampant that water vendors are allowed to fetch water at the nearby Huruma Primary. In Bondeni for example, there is a borehole being drilled. But the question is whether officials are ready to test the water more frequently as the water may be susceptible to contamination?

Hence, most families in Mathare are unable to implement the new measures for the prevention of Covid-19, like washing hands or using sanitizers as most of them have lost their jobs and have no money to buy water, food or any other mandatory essential required. Not forgetting that social distancing sounds like a joke in this area. Mathare residents also have a right to clean and adequate supply of water.


MSPARC - Mathare Special Planning Area Research Collective

Urgent recommendations for a people-centered COVID-19 government response in Mathare

The Mathare-Special Planning Area Research Collective — M-SPARC came together in 2019, to try and bring about people-centered planning and upgrading in Mathare. A Mathare-led initiative, this collective has also come together during the pandemic to provide material assistance to residents of this settlement. MSJC is part of these efforts, and within this collective has contributed to recommendations to the government, in order to make state responses more grounded and inclusive. These recommendations are below and can also be downloaded hereMSPARC Recommendations

By, The Mathare-Special Planning Area Research Collective — M-SPARC 

The current situation in Mathare

Out of 434 Mathare respondents of a Muungano wa Wanavijiji COVID-19 response survey conducted in early April 2020, 54% said they were taking personal measures to protect themselves; 43% were involved in organizations supporting others in their community, and a vast minority said that they had seen necessary actions being conducted by the National government, 17%, or the County Government, 14%. Related, with 69% of respondents taking it upon themselves to create awareness and 24% engaging in the distribution of essentials such as soap and sanitizer, we can make out the huge role that community groups and individuals are playing in protecting their communities against COVID-19. This is a role that surpasses that of the government – both National and County Governments. At the same time, since 38% of respondents said they still do not have adequate information about COVID- 19, and 56% said they lack adequate water while the vast majority, 89%, said they do not have basic needs (food, rent etc.,) to adhere to the protection measures, it is imperative that the governments, both National and County, play their part in supporting the Mathare community (and other poor areas) in their local COVID-19 response efforts. Based on these documented experiences of the past few weeks, we urge the government of Kenya to take up the following recommendations to make the COVID19 response in informal settlements effective, safe and dignified for all:

1.We urge the government to ensure a steady flow of water to all informal settlements and to all parts within these neighborhoods.

Many poor settlements still lack a sufficient water supply, despite the government directive that they should be provided with free water for the next few months, and this greatly exacerbates the overall risk situation here and hampers many initiatives by residents and local organizations to make water available for frequent hand washing in public spaces. The boreholes that have been dug by the government do not solve this problem sufficiently. Also, people with meters have been forced to pay 400 KES per month without the flow of water.

2. We urge the government to work through local community-led organizations in the informal settlements when distributing food, sanitation and protection items.

Much of the distribution of food, masks and hand sanitizers did not work through local organizations, and as a result has ended up endangering many recipients because of the chaos that ensued. These initiatives are also highly exclusive because they often go through influential people in the communities. Community-led organizations know their community and are held accountable by them for an even, fair and safe distribution of donations and other items. They know best how to organize a safe and respectful manner in which items can be distributed to those most in need. We also urge that food delivery and any other type of support, like the cash donations, from the government be adequate, inclusive and on an ongoing basis.

3. We urge the government to include youth as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and in other public health interventions in informal settlements.

Many of the current CHVs in informal settlements are older and some are HIV positive, which means that they are more at risk of becoming severely affected by the corona virus. The youthfulness and healthy immune systems of youth make them fit for this type of work under these circumstances. In addition, following the stringent corona measures, many of these youth in informal settlements have lost their access to work. Hence, including them as CHVs in the government’s public health outreach under its COVID19 response would also support these youth in earning a stipend during such dire economic times. However, the recent first attempt by the government to hire youth as part of fumigation efforts in Mathare has ended up in chaos due to lack of government planning and corruption, and  youth uncertain of the process were met with a disproportionally heavy-handed response by police (see point 4). This blatantly shows the need for a people-driven planning of Mathare through the declaration of Mathare as a Special Planning Area for this would enable community-led organizations and groups to work together with the government to organize both the employment of youth in such schemes and in the participatory planning and improvement of Mathare to benefit safety, health and economic outcomes, all at once. The knowledge on how Mathare can be organized and improved lies with the people living here who are already developing local mechanisms of development, work and care. By declaring Mathare a Special Planning Area, the government can build with and strengthen the local knowledges, achievements and arrangements through which government objectives concerning health, economy and safety could easily be achieved.

4. We urge the government to condemn the violent and corrupt mode of enforcing the current curfew and other corona measures in place by the police.

Our organizations have been flooded with incident reports on police who kill, maim and beat residents in the informal settlements, and even inside their own homes, when supposedly enforcing the curfew and other measures to stop COVID19 from spreading. The killing of Yassin Moyo, a 13 year old resident of Kiamaiko, Mathare, by police while he was standing on his own balcony is just one devastating example of many instances of the use of excessive force by police. Besides using illegal force, the police have also been reported to us, by many residents in informal settlements, as taking advantage of the corona measures to extort money from residents. On top of this, a shocking number of young people have disappeared in recent weeks. Some have been found beaten but alive in police stations after days of searching, while others are yet to be found.

5. We urge the government to include community-led organizations, such as the local Muungano Wanavijiji leaders, in the local task force committees.

At present, the local task force committees that operate under the national task force steering the government’s response to COVID19 draw membership from local Nyumba Kumi groups and village elders. While local community-led organizations have vast experience reaching the residents who are most in need and are in general the first responders to any type of crisis in these neighborhoods (fire, cholera outbreaks, violence etc.), they are not part of the local task force steering the local COVID19 response. Not including their immense experience and local knowledge could thus seriously jeopardize the effectiveness of the government’s COVID19 response in informal settlements. Moreover, the collective awareness, research and food and water distribution efforts they are engaged in during this time, and that precede local government efforts, make imperative their involvement in the local and national COVID-19 committees.

6. We urge the government to work together with residents and other community-led organizations to locate safe and dignified isolation centers for COVID19 patients in or nearby the informal settlements.

The plan to have a few large-scale isolations centers, for instance in Kasarani stadium, has sparked enormous fear among residents of informal settlements. Since the proposed centers are far from their homes, this will discourage many people from coming forward when having symptoms, and in this way completely obstructing the COVID19 response in these neighborhoods. There are many local options known by the local organizations that could help residents suffering from COVID19 to stay close to where they live while receiving adequate and dignified care.

Under the banner of the Mathare Spatial Planning Area Research Collective:

1) Ghetto Foundation

2) Muungano wa Wanavijiji

3) Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre

4) Mathare Social Justice Centre

5) Slum Dwellers International-Kenya

6) Naipolitans

7) Muungano AMT

8) Kounkuey Design Initiative




EJE Campaign Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Social Justice Centres Working Group

“War against the poor and youth”: Video of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Solidarity Visit to Mathare

In February 2020, Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitration executions, came to Mathare to take part in a community-led conference that focused on the rampant extrajudicial killings of the poor in Nairobi. We greatly appreciated her solidarity visit, and we continue together to demand justice for our people.  In this video she talks about this visit, and the “war against the poor and youth” that Kenya and other states are waging. We thank Peace Brigades International for their work to bring Agnes Callamard to our community. See the video below.

Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group

Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG) Statement on the disappearances of our comrades: Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu & Samuel Mungai

As we continue to look for our comrades from Kiamaiko who were last seen on April 24, please read and share the statement below by the Police Reforms Working Group. This statement is available here: 2020 May 1 PRWG Kiamaiko3 disappearances

We continue to search for them across the County, and hope they will be back to their families soon.

Disappearances of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu and Samuel Mungai 

Joint Statement by twenty Human Rights Organisations 


1 May 2020 

Twenty human rights organisations under the auspices of the Police Reforms Working Group have raised alarm following the disappearance of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu and Samuel Mungai. 

Reported missing on 24th April 2020 to Thika Police Station, the three men have been mysteriously missing for six days. The three were last seen in Thika town while driving back to Nairobi. They were driving in a car hire Silver Ractis registration number KCX 843M. 

The car owner reported the matter at Githurai Kimbo Police Station on 26th April 2020 and Githurai Mwiki Police Station. The vehicle has since been moved to Thika Police Station for inspection where a missing person report was initially filed. 

It has been close to a week since their families have reported their disappearance to the police. There has been no official information on the progress of the investigation. The twenty human rights organisations remind the law enforcement agencies of a number of cases of disappearances of human rights defenders. Michael Njau is an active community leader and member of the Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre. 

Family, friends and human rights defenders are engaged in an active search for the three men. They have visited twenty-six police stations and twelve hospitals and morgues across Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos in the last five days. 

Every moment now counts. We acknowledge current efforts by the combined arms of the investigation, police and law enforcement agencies. We call on them to intensify their actions to ensure the safety and return of the three missing persons. We also call on the public to report any information to the local Police Station and 0716261113/0722926732. 

This statement is endorsed by members of the Police Reforms Working Group, an alliance of several organisations committed to professional and rule of law policing. They include the Social Justice Centres Working Group, International Justice Mission, Independent Medical Legal Unit, Katiba Institute, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Defenders Coalition, Haki Africa, Amnesty International Kenya, International Centre for Transitional Justice, The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), Usalama Reforms Forum, Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA-K) Legal Resources Foundation, Transparency International Kenya, Shield For Justice, Wangu Kanja Foundation, Peace Brigades International and Katiba Institute 




Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Papo Reto/Kenya & Brazil Solidarity Solidarity Women in Social Justice Centres

“Killings Get Back, We are Moving Forward” : The Launch of the Network of Mothers of Victims and Survivors of Police Violence

This article was written about the Mother of Victims and Survivors Network launch, and was originally published on RioOnWatch, as part of “ongoing reporting on social struggles around the world that dialogue with the local reality in Rio de Janeiro and offer important points of international comparison. ” We agree with RioOnWatch that “analyzing parallels and showing solidarity for peer communities allows us all to establish connections, share knowledge, build networks of support, and establish a sense of common experience and purpose.”

On February 15, nearly two years after beginning their work, the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network launched their initiative at the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya.

The network is composed of close to fifty members from across the city’s low-income settlements—from Kayole, Mathare, Dandora, Mukuru, Kibera and elsewhere—all of whom have come together to seek justice for the killing or brutal victimization of members of their family, usually young men, by the police.

Echoing the struggles of the mothers of political prisoners in Kenya in the early nineties and similar inspirational mobilizations of madres and mães in Argentina and Brazil, the network is primarily composed of women. These are the mothers and wives of victims of extrajudicial killings.

Since 2017, the members of the Network have been coming together to support each other through grief, to offer solidarity in the judicial system for the mothers who have been lucky enough to have their cases reach court, to document new victims, and to strategize collectively. Though throughout this time they have witnessed and continue to experience the imbalances and biases of the Kenyan legal system, the day’s launch was a celebration of the Network’s tedious, painful, and painstaking work: of what they have accomplished and what they will continue to do to ensure justice for their communities.

In 2017, the MSJC, a community-based organization in the urban settlement of Mathare, released a participatory action report on extrajudicial killings in Kenya between 2013-2016. The report, titled “Who is Next?: A Participatory Action Research Report Against the Normalization of Extrajudicial Executions in Mathare,” chronicled the killing of at least 50 young men in Mathare and 803 nationally in the three-year period. While illustrative of the sinister force of the police in the country, most citizens recognize that this documentation is only the beginning. The number represents a minority of those who have been killed in the recent past and filed away as “thugs” or “suspected terrorists.”

Some of the families of the young men killed and documented in this report and other ongoing MSJC documentation are represented in the Network.

Mama Victor, the current coordinator of the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, lost her two sons, Victor and Bernard, on the same day in 2017. They were killed, meters apart, by police officers who had invaded Mathare, ostensibly to quell protests provoked by the election results released a day earlier.

In Lucy Wambui’s case, another co-leader of the Network, her husband, Christopher Maina, was killed when she was eight months pregnant with their first child. He was dragged from a building site where he had been working and killed at 2pm on a public street. His killer, a notorious police officer named Rashid, executed one of the witnesses to Maina’s killing a year later. Having also been filmed killing two young men in Eastleigh two months after killing Maina, Rashid continues to work as a police officer. Unjustly vindicated in an irresponsibly biased BBC documentary, this breed of policing reflects that what the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard called, during her February 2020 visit to Mathare, typical of “serial killers in uniform.”

Another member of the network is Mama Stella, whose son was one of the eight young men killed by the police in April 2016 in Mukuru. Though the media reported that they were “suspected thugs,” two of them were only 16, and one was 17 years old. The group had plans to start a community garbage collection business.

One of the youngest members of the network is 19-year-old Mso from Mathare, who has had two partners killed by the police in the same year. She is now left to care for two young sons in the same settlement where her husbands were killed.

While their family members are killed at whim, these women are unable to seek justice from government organizations such as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA). According to its own “End-Term Board Report 2012 -2018,” the IPOA has only managed three convictions out of the 9878 cases it received during that period—just as in Brazil, the vast majority of these cases remain under endless investigation. And yet, against the injustice of these conditions, the Network has continued to grow.

These women know that the killing of their family members is only one extreme outcome in a continuum of structural violence that features, among other things: lack of access to water, poor schools, inadequate health care, and the militarization of their homes. “Children being killed like kukus [chicken],” said one mother.

They also know that the government’s informally formalized “shoot to kill” policy is reserved for spaces like theirs. Wealthy areas of the city see no such policing.

For this reason, these mothers came together on February 15 wearing red shirts to represent the[ir] “blood that had been shed.” On the back of these shirts were only three words: “justice for victims.”

Together they sang and danced and marched determinedly, expressing how the[ir] “fire had been lit” [moto imewaka], while dedicating time to plant trees in memory of those they had lost.

As these trees grow and are taken care of in a community that is governed by environmental apartheid, they will stand as symbols of residents’ struggle for justice. They will exist in opposition to a status quo, planted in a moment of change co-catalyzed when these mothers got up and said: “killings get back, we are moving forward.”


Mathare COVID-19 Efforts & Solidarity

Since the government announced the first positive COVID-19 patient on March 13, there has been lots of community work going on in Mathare and other poor settlements in the country. Recognizing that they cannot depend on their government, grassroots activists have been mobilizing to get water tanks, water, sanitizers, soap, food, money and other essentials to desperate citizens. This situation is explained in a more in-depth manner through a Social justice Centre Working Group (SJCWG) statement available here.

Many people in Mathare and other poor urban settlements have lost their jobs or are unable to work for daily wages because of the “mini-lockdown.” And because of this food, water and other solidarities become very important. This situation has been made worse by the violent enforcement of the curfew, and a number of Mathare residents have been beaten extensively, and a 13 year old boy was killed on March 31 while observing the curfew on his balcony. His whole family were present during that execution by bullet, and until now no police officer has been brought to book for this.

At MSJC we have been lucky to have received solidarity from various people and organizations: we have received a water tank, money, food support, water, sanitizers, masks and soap. We are also working together with other organizations such as Ghetto Foundation, Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre (KCJC), Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Muungano wa Wanavijiji (under the banner of Mathare SPA) to have a more coordinated response as organizations advocating and struggling for Mathare.

As an organization, our members have also done a participatory survey across all wards of Mathare to understand the greatest priorities of residents, as well as to create awareness on COVID-19: initial survey results are available through this link: (MSJC initial community COVID-19 findings). We also currently have a water tank in front of our space where we provide free water and soap for residents for hand washing, and have been able to distribute some masks. Thank you to those who have contributed to help us buy water, food and other essential, and for any one else who would like to contribute, they are welcome to send via MPESA or World Remit to Wangui Kimari (the Participatory Action Research Coordinator at MSJC) on this phone number (+254728174329). We will acknowledge all donations on our website, and are very grateful for them as we seek to support Mathare community members who are really struggling at this time.

Other community based organizations are doing similar work, and to find out about the work of other justice centres across Kenya, please contact the Social Justice Centre Working Group (SJCWG) at:

We keep praying and hoping that this situation will pass soon locally and across the globe, and that we will all be able to keep safe. Until then we keep on trying to make sure our communities are safe and healthy. We hope we can stand together to make this possible. Please see pictures below from ongoing community efforts during this time. Pamoja!




Thank you Mutual Aid for the support!

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) in partnership with Mutual Aid last week donated food stuffs and sanitizers to person’s living with disabilities in Mathare. These efforts are so we can have solidarity with our most vulnerable people as we all face the COVID-19 situation, and also to support this important campaign. We continue to share, demand rights and recruit more differently abled people from Mathare and other informal settlements so that together we can amplify their voices and demand justice and rights. We greatly appreciate this solidarity from Mutual Aid. See pictures from this day below: