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Heart of gold: Police officer saves destitute residents from looming arrest

A police constable has donated more than 200 face masks to less fortunate residents of Isinet, Kimana and Loitokitok towns, after government has warned members of the public to put on masks or risk hefty fines and imprisonment

By Fredrick Ntele & Isaac Lenkou

For most Kenyans, police service is synonymous with arbitrariness, oppression and brute force, a narrative that was lately amplified further by reported cases of murder and assault meted on residents by some rogue officers under the guise of enforcing the ongoing dusk to dawn curfew in the country.

The incidences elicited netizen’s anger and vehement condemnation, both in the mainstream and social media.

However, before the public outrage subsidies, Rahab Kung’u — a police constable based at Namelok police station, in Loitokitok town — emerges to rewrite the narrative, with a simple but kind gesture of offering free face mask to the less fortunate residents of Isinet, Kimana and Loitokitok towns, in Kajiado South Constituency.

Ms Rahab (in red t-shirt) distributing face masks in Isinet town, Kajiado South. Photo | Isaac Lenkou | Kajiado Star

Her applaudable gesture is in tandem with efforts by many other compatriots of good will who are contributing to the efforts in the global fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has in effect wrecked (economic, social and mental health) havoc, more so in the developing countries.

In an exclusive interview, Ms Rahab told the Kajiado Star that empathy pushed her act after she encountered market traders who were justifiably denied entry to the market, by county askaris, for failing to adhere to a mandatory requirement to put on the masks.

“I was on patrol with my colleagues when I saw some elderly women, struggling to access the market, hopefully to sell their merchandise, but were justifiably denied entry and chased away for not putting on the facial masks… when we intervened, I realized that they honestly lacked money to purchase the masks,” she narrated.

Thereafter, she said, “I approached a friend of mine who makes the face masks in Kimana market, and I paid her to make some for me.”

So far, she has distributed 200 masks, and has pledged to hire more tailors to be able to distribute even more. She targets street families, widows, and boda boda riders among others.

“I will wish us to all to survive this pandemic, and I believe our simple and individual efforts can go a long way in combating the spread of the virus,” she said.

Her donation comes hot on the heels of a government directive requiring all people to wear masks as one of the precautions against the spread of the deadly virus, or risk fine and/or imprisonment.

Over the weekend, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe gazetted a list of hefty penalties against violators of the directive, which include; “a fine not exceeding Ksh20,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both.”

Early on, County governments, through the chair of Council of Governors Wycliffe Oparanya, ruled out distribution of free face masks, arguably, due to lack of funds to procure them.

“There are no free masks. It is up to each of us to take their responsibility to buy a mask and protect ourselves from infection since counties have no resources to sustain such expenditure,” said Oparanya in his Kakamega County.

He made the remarks in response to calls from the members of the public who are urging both the national and county governments to offer free masks, arguing that due to hard economic situations, they are fighting tooth and nail to find a meal a day, and hence, getting an extra coin to spend on masks isn’t anything easy to come by.

Such voluntary donations therefore come in handy, with some beneficiaries shedding tears of sheer relief.

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