20-year-old student dies after Mombasa demos against Finance Bill

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Emmanuel Giggs Tata's relatives are calling for justice, saying he collapsed after a tear gas canister landed next to him during the demonstrations on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Giggs Tata left his home in Mikindani, Mombasa County, on Tuesday, June 25, but never returned, killed in the aftermath of protests against the Finance Bill, 2024.

Emmanuel, whose parents assured was not involved in the protests, was in town for personal errands.

The 20-year-old, second-year student of Science Laboratory Technology had been sent back home from the Meru National Polytechnic due to a fee balance and was supposed to return in July.

"He was my firstborn son. I did not know I would lose him to the protests. We lived together. I was at work when I got a call from his number at around 3 pm,” his father, Paul Tata, said in an interview on Wednesday.

A combination picture of 20-year-old Emmanuel Giggs Tata from Mikindani, Mombasa County, who died after anti-Finance Bill protests on June 25, 2024. (Photos: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

The call was from his son's friends, who informed him that they were at the Mwembe stage, heading home.

At around 3 PM, while heading to their Mikindani home, police fired tear gas at a crowd of protesters so Emmanuel and his friends sought refuge at a nearby store.

"I was called again and told he had fainted," Paul recounted. "His friends took him to Al Farouq Hospital in Majengo, but doctors informed me he had arrived with no signs of life. They tried first aid, but it was too late."

A report from Al Farooq Hospital, seen by The Eastleigh Voice, noted that Emmanuel was brought in unconscious, with nonreactive pupils and no cardiopulmonary activity.

He was declared dead at 4.49 pm and his body was taken to the Pandya Memorial Hospital morgue.

The incident was reported at Central Police Station under OB No 76/25/06/2024, where it was classified as sudden death.

Paul Tata, father of the late Emmanuel Giggs Tata, addresses journalists in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

Huge bills

The family is facing financial strain, with Sh63,000 as the bill at Pandya Memorial Hospital, where the daily morgue fee is Sh2,500.

"My son was always calm. He never gave me any trouble. He had been staying home due to a lack of fees, which I was paying in instalments of Sh5,000, and Sh10,000. He was to go back to school in July. I just want justice for my child. I want the pain to stop,” Paul said.

Samson Nzamba, cousin of the late Emmanuel Giggs Tata, addresses journalists in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

His uncle, Samson Nzamba, said he was with Emmanuel when the police lobbed the tear gas.

"A canister fell near him before he collapsed. He complained he couldn’t breathe and then fainted. We campaigned for your government, Mr President, and prayed for it. Why are you doing this to us? Listen to the youths,” he said.

Family representative and uncle, Daniel Nzamba, highlighted Emmanuel’s parents' financial struggles.

"The family needs around Sh350,000 for all expenses, including the funeral. They are Jua Kali traders who live from hand to mouth," he explained.

The funeral will take place in Athi River, Machakos County.

Elizabeth Wanjeri, the Coast region representative of the Law Society of Kenya, speaks to journalists in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

Rights groups react

Elizabeth Wanjeri, representing the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) at the coast, sent a condolence message and called for a moderate response by security agencies to quell the protests,

"On behalf of LSK, our condolences to the family of Emmanuel. It is very unfortunate that we are losing 20-year-olds who have their whole lives ahead. The government and its agencies should measure the manner in which they are dealing with protesters," Wanjeri said.

"People are peaceful and unarmed. We have seen instances where they have used live bullets. We ask the government to address the issues and stop using a lot of force on demonstrators. We call upon the church and all religious organizations to stop issuing press statements and actually join people on the ground."

Human rights defender Khelef Khalifa, who is chairman of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), addresses journalists in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

Human rights defender Khelef Khalifa, who is chairman of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), regretted that a 20-year-old died "for no apparent reason".

"The police and the government should learn to respect lives. They are yet to learn the value of life. For the police to use live ammunition means they aim to shoot and kill. Why? What sin have they committed? This is not the first nor the last time," he said.

"Many young people have been killed by the police. The president has all the government machinery. He knows everything. He should not tell us that people are being funded. Arrest and take them to court."

Zedekiah Adika, chairman of Coast Civil Societies, addresses journalists in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein/EV)

Zedekiah Adika, chairman of Coast Civil Societies, stated, "Today is a heavy moment for the nation. We condole with families like Tata’s. As Coast CSOs (civil society organisations), we say 'sorry' to all families feeling the brunt. Those injured wherever they are, we say sorry," he said.

"Mr President, tone down and listen to people. Mr President, you still have a pen in your hand. Do not assent to that bill. It passed parliament and is coming to you. Timelines process those are the laws but the law is for us. We should not sink the nation."

Francis Auma, of MUHURI Rapid Response, reported that 15 people were wounded in Mombasa, with Emmanuel's being the only confirmed death so far.

Mathias Shipeta from Haki Africa, said, "We want to send a message to the government. Yesterday, the president said acts committed are of treason but we all know the major act of treason is by the government to its children. Governments come and go. Presidents come and go. There will be a time when the president will be held to account for the murder of people during demonstrations.”

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