24-year-old shot dead in Kenya’s anti-Finance Bill protests

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 21 June 2024 at 09:16

A 24-year-old man died on Thursday after being shot by police during anti-Finance Bill protests that rocked Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

Austin Arnold, a lawyer privy to the matter, told the local media that Rex Kanyike Masai was heading home at around 7pm in the company of a friend when he was shot in the knee outside Hilton Hotel in Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Masai was rushed to a city hospital where he was confirmed dead with the doctors attributing his death to excessive bleeding.

"I have spent the night with the family of Rex and we have delivered the body to City Mortuary for Post-Mortem in the morning. It is a shattered family. They are clinging to hope, because that’s all they can do," Arnold said.

Reports indicate that Masai was shot by a police officer in plain clothes who opened fire at protesters demanding rejection of the Finance Bill 2024.

Hundreds of people, mostly young people, have been arrested since the "Occupy Parliament" protests kicked off on Tuesday with the aim of forcing lawmakers to shoot down the Bill seeking to raise additional taxes for the government.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), charged with the mandate of checking police excesses, said on Friday morning that it had launched investigations into the fatal shooting.

"The Authority has this morning launched investigations into the fatal shooting and our investigation team has since established contact with the family of Mr. Masai," IPOA chair Anne Makori said, further commending protesters for their peaceful conduct during the demos.

Controversial Bill passes second reading

Despite the spirited demonstrations in various parts of the country, Kenya’s parliament voted for the controversial Finance Bill 2024 to enter the committee stage.

204 MPs voted in favour of the bill while 115 voted against it, paving the way for the bill to move to the committee stage and a third reading. If it passes the third reading, it will be sent to President William Ruto for assent.

Earlier on Tuesday, under pressure from Kenyans, President Ruto met with ruling coalition MPs at State House Nairobi and agreed to withdraw some unpopular taxes. But this did not stop the protests.

The Kenyan Head of State met MPs from the ruling coalition at State House Nairobi and allowed the amendments that included the withdrawal of proposed 16 percent VAT on bread, 2.5 per cent motor vehicle tax and hiking of tax on mobile money transfers to 20 percent from 15 percent.

Also withdrawn was a proposal to introduce a Ksh150 per kilogram eco-tax on plastic packaging materials, batteries and hygiene products including diapers and sanitary pads.

Unlike in the past, when protests were led by members of the opposition coalition, including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the recent protests in Kenya were largely led by young Kenyans, popularly known as Gen Z, both on social media and on the streets.

Reports indicate that Masai was shot by a police officer in plain clothes who opened fire at protesters demanding rejection of the Finance Bill 2024.