President Uhuru Kenyatta has done the right thing to own up to the brutalities visited on citizens by police officers enforcing curfew rules.
But beyond that, he has to crack the whip and instil discipline in the police service. All agree that the curfew and other protocols must be observed, but these require collaboration, not force.
Police officers who inflicted violence on citizens should be identified and punished to serve as a lesson to others.
We note that a few have been identified and interdicted. But that is not enough. They should face the full force of the law and serve commensurate penalties.
Further, we ask for investigations to establish whether top officials issued a directive to police officers to use force against citizens.
If so, they should also be penalised. Additionally, we demand the sanctioning of senior police officers who openly supported the violence.
A noble plan should not be ruined by baton- and trigger-happy police officers, who cause mayhem and social distress.
Police officers have to be disabused of the notion that they are above the law and so can use instruments of power to inflict pain on ordinary citizens.
Misuse of authority has to stop. Everyone has to learn to respect the rule of law.
The first night of the curfew, on Friday last week, was horrendous. Several police officers ran amok as they sought to clear the roads and force people into their homes.
In Mombasa, they brutalised ferry commuters and journalists on duty. Since then, various other incidents have been reported, the latest being the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy in Nairobi’s Kiamaiko area this week.
Yet the objective of the curfew was to curtail movements and curb the spread of the coronavirus, whose tally now stands at 122.
Core to the fight is keeping a safe social distance, in addition to personal hygiene. Never was the curfew a licence for the police and other administration officials to torment the public.
Public campaigns are largely about communication and persuasion. Members of the public have to be convinced and mobilised to support such initiatives.
Buy-in is best achieved through dialogue, not brute force. In fact, listening to some victims of the police cruelty reveals a deep sense of disenchantment and resentment that does not augur well for the campaign.
The campaign to stop the spread of the pandemic must be intensified because the consequences of infections are catastrophic.
Citizens have to observe all the regulations and support government initiatives. However, the government has to work with the people, not pulverise them.