David
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Mugambi
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Zimmerman

Police a major hindrance to graft war

Police action in Kenya is a private bidding war where the police actually even get paid to be the thugs, over-riding instead of enforcing the law.

Police action in Kenya is a private bidding war where the police actually even get paid to be the thugs. FILE PHOTO | NMG

It escaped none of us, I don’t suppose, the President’s Madaraka Day redeclaration of his war on corruption. Yet the words hit sour ground in my own home, where it is impossible not to understand that beneath our nation’s hurtle towards endemic thieving sits a police force so rotten it is without hope of functioning to achieve law and order. This year, my driver and company banking agent, one David, stole my youngest son’s school fees on the way to school with them.It was a lot of money, Sh366,000, and painful in many ways. David joined us in 2008 as an askari and rose from there to gardener, company messenger and then driver and company banking agent.

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He knew the fees had to be in that day for my son to sit his GCSEs. He had known my son since he was five-years-old, made wooden trucks with him, laughed with car’s full of youngsters with him, driven that child day in, day out as he grew up: and then moved to ruin his life.I still have no words for that man. But then, came the police. And zero surprises for anyone.We reported the theft immediately to Spring Valley Police Station. They weren’t interested in the motorbike he left on with the money, his own motorbike. They argued, the front desk police officer in a tussle between the OCPD and his deputy about even logging the registration number.They took no statements. The Deputy OCPD, for a moment, looked to be thinking of doing some policing. He said he would put a detective on it first thing the next day. He never did. After days, he claimed the crime had never even been logged.On a repeat visit, the same Deputy OCPD said he would catch that driver ‘dead or alive’ if I could just persuade my ‘friends’ at Safaricom to track him by phone. In fact, the police never took one single, solitary action to apprehend the thief of more than a quarter of a million shillings from a Kenyan company. The thief still posts on Facebook, uses Whatsapp many times a week, owns land, hasn’t changed his identity, and walks free: no one is looking for him. And, actually, it’s my own fault. I haven’t paid the police a bribe. For the truth is that police action in Kenya is a private bidding war where the police actually even get paid to be the thugs, over-riding instead of enforcing the law. In 2013, I was arrested twice by police when I was fired from a job and my former employer paid them (eye-witnessed) to harass me to drop my labour rights. One single, solitary decent policeman involved in it all said it happens often.When my office manager stole from me, I went to the CID, the experience was the same, and prosecution never followed. No amount of nagging helps, no number of visits. I have had intoxicated policemen climb into my car in the morning rush hour demanding money. I reported an illegal eviction: nothing. I rescued a member of staff from a police heist where entire matatus’ full of passengers were arrested, supposedly for not wearing seat belts, on a Friday evening, including women with babies, and threatened with cells all weekend unless they ‘paid up’. I, likewise, spent night hours in another police station crammed with literally dozens of residents from Zimmerman, swept up another Friday night for supposedly drinking on the street, nearly 100 of them, released in dribs and drabs as they ‘paid up’.That time, the police on duty were themselves so drunk they stank, refused to give me their police numbers, threatened to arrest me too if I didn’t leave their money-harvesting zone.Indeed, I actually feel sorry for any president on police graft. There is barely one police officer in 20 who hasn’t become a thug, and it would take computerization, investment, and a colossal and external force of probably thousands to turn our police into law enforcers and upholders.So walk free David: there’s no law here, and you can enjoy the school fees.

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