Does This Image Show Protests in Kisii County Over COVID-19 Related Police Brutality?

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This article dated July 7, 2020, was shared on Twitter with the caption “death penalty over selling of fake sanitizers #Kenya”. It also features a photograph of what looks like angry protesters.

The article has the following headline:

Angry Protesters Torch a Police Station Following The Killing of Kenyan Businessman

Background

A series of tragic deaths linked to police brutality have been witnessed in Kenya since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the country. This was especially after the dusk to dawn curfew was instituted to help curb the spread of the virus. Protests on police brutality, even as early as July 7, have been witnessed in the country, as people demand justice for the lives lost.

So far, Kenya has recorded over 8000 cases of COVID-19 (and counting). Though cessation of movement in the most affected areas such as Nairobi and Mombasa was lifted on July 6, the nationwide curfew was extended for another 30 days. Wearing of masks, hand washing and social distancing remain paramount.

Verification

A YouTube search for the keywords ‘Rioma Police Station Burned’ shows that an officer in Kisii allegedly killed a trader, as reported by Citizen TV on June 6, 2020. The deceased was allegedly caught flouting COVID-19 regulations as he did not have a mask and was selling fake sanitizers.

The details of the incident are given in the description as copied in part below:

…Rioma Kisii…A security meeting was today held between locals and Kisii county security top brass led by the county commissioner to try and calm angry residents. The meeting follows the killing of a local businessman by a police officer in Kisii County and the subsequent burning of a police station by residents.

The photograph below is used in the article and has been captioned as being of the protesters who set fire to the Rioma police station In Kisii.

However, a reverse image search shows that the above is a photo from an old presidential election-related protest in 2016. It is attributed to Ben Curtis, a photojournalist for the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

The Twitter caption about a death penalty for selling fake sanitizers in Kenya is misleading and should not be taken literally.

On April 23, The Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) warned that those selling fake masks and sanitizers risk paying three times the total value and jail terms as guided by the courts. There have been no official reports on a death penalty for the same.

Verdict

While the incident reported in the article really took place, the photo used is old and the captions used are misleading.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.