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Kenyan families search for missing children after anti-government protests

Protesters block the busy Nairobi - Mombasa highway in the Mlolongo area, Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, July 2, 2024   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Presidential in Kenya

Tabitha Wanjiru Kairo and her husband David Kairo have been searching for their missing son in police stations, hospitals and morgues hoping to find him dead or alive.

Their son went missing during recent protests against the finance bill that was being debated in parliament in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Their 28-year-old son Joseph Mwangi was a street salesman, peddling what ever he could to make ends meet, but he had big dreams of one day becoming a police officer or soldier serving his county.

His mother Tabitha Wanjiru Kairo, has been searching everywhere.

"They (the government) should look for our children because I have searched all over but I can not trace his where abouts. I've reported him missing at the Kasarani Police Station but the police there don't seem to care or know anything," said Kairo.

Kairo believes her son didn't do anything wrong. The last time they spoke he had told her that he was hoping to join anti-government protests because he felt the cost of living in Kenya was becoming unbearable.

As a mother, Kairo is proud of her son's desire to protest, if she was younger she says she would have protested against the government too.

She urges the government to release all those who have been abducted and are missing to be released immediately and without harm.

"Give us our children. My child did nothing wrong to anyone. Protesting in the streets is not a crime....Why are they making us suffer," She added.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights so far there have been 41 deaths, 35 abductions and 746 arrests as a result of the anti-finance bill protests.

Kenya’s President William Ruto on Friday apologised for the “arrogance and show of opulence” by legislators and ministers from the ruling party and promised action against “rogue” police officers who shot at unarmed civilians during deadly protests and the storming of parliament over plans to hike taxes.

Ruto, referring to what he called arrogant statements made by officials, said public speaking was “difficult” and some people make “mistakes” for which he takes responsibility and promised change in the conduct of officials.

Kenya experienced two weeks of unrest during which Parliament was stormed by protesters during a finance bill vote.