The Police Are a Missing Link

It’s time the menace in the police department gets fixed

I was an intern at Kenya News Agency in 2016 when the news of the extra judicial killing of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their trusted driver Joseph Muiruri broke the news. The police officers had kidnapped them after one of the sessions in court. They disguised it as an arrest just outside the premises of court and that was the last time anyone would see Kimani and his client alive.

Days later their bodies were found dumped in Mlolongo mutilated. They showed signs of torture that ultimately led to their deaths. There were multiple demonstrations held times without number by the legal fraternity to protest the actions of police. 

In this particular case, Josephat Mwenda  had lodged a dispute against Frederick Leliman, a police officer who had shot him in the arm. He escalated the case to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA). Kimani, who was working for the International Justice Mission organization at the time, was chosen to represent him. With the progress of the case, the police officers were irked and clearly threatened. That’s why they sought to eliminate them because it would magically make the case disappear.

Six tiringly long years later, the case was concluded and the particular officers were sentenced to life imprisonment including the female officer who was involved in the case. Finally justice had been found. But this case comes on the backdrop of holding the police accountable. 

Recently, the Director of Public Prosecutions approved murder charges against Eastleigh’s famous crime busting cop Rashid Ahmed. The guy is famous for killing hard core criminals terrorizing the eastlands area of Nairobi.

His vigilance and unorthodox zeal has earned him a reputation of love or hate, respect or disdain depending on the side you choose to lean on. If you’re an apologist, you’ll say that he has made the places safer and business people can conduct business with ease and no fear. Therefore his actions though controversial and questionable have made the economy of the place grow. You can see why business people were protesting against murder charges being opened against the guy.

On the other side of the aisle however, for organizations such as Amnesty International Kenya which champion for human rights and fight against extra judicial killings, the news of the prosecution is music to their ears. For the longest time ever, an example will be made of cops who are willing to bend the rules to get the job done. Justice will finally be done and it will be a strong statement to other law enforcement officers.

One of the things that baffled me when I kept thinking about how the police murdered the Mavoko 3 is that in their minds it was an option. The police have been so brazen and daring in their impunity that murdering the citizens that they swore to protect is also on the table. How far have we fallen as a country? How low can our standards get that law enforcement officers have the bravado to conduct killings with confidence? 

Definitely one of the biggest reasons they resolved to do that was because they knew they would get away with it and the case would magically go away. And when you consider the whole police force as a whole, you can’t fail to recognize that it’s rotten to the core. All you need to do is to observe the traffic police if you use public transport. 

The matatu drivers in Nairobi drive recklessly bending and breaking traffic rules with so much hard headedness yet we have traffic officers manning these roads. All these matatu operators do is give the officers some hash money. That frees them to rein terror on our roads because they know there is nothing you can do about it.

A friend of mine recently told me a story about how thieves stole his cousin’s phone. Luckily the cousin had friends who could help him get his phone back. The cousin’s friends took him to a certain dungeon in Nairobi where they had so many cell phones laid out and stored. These were proceeds of stealing from innocent Nairobians. 

As they arrived there was a police officer who was in that premises threatening to arrest these alleged criminals. The cousin witnessed the owners of the business giving the officer Ksh 10,000 cash. Consequently the man mandated to serve the public (Utumishi kwa wote) stuffed the blood money in his pocket and silently left the scene of crime with a smirk. He left valiantly, confidently carefree knowing that his personal needs were met. Kenyan taxpayers who pay his monthly salary and allowances can suffer on their own for all he cares.

But all hope is not lost. The government of the day came in and among their first items of business was to dismantle killer squads in the police department such as the Special Service Unit (SSU). Some were charged in court and hopefully the endless vicious cycle of extra judicial killings will finally be put to bed.

The public will once again have faith and confidence in the police because not all apples are bad. In fact I believe we hear more of the bad apples because bad news makes the most noise. There are good police officers who dispense their duties with honor and integrity.

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Nasra Nanda

Nasra Nanda

Nasra Nanda is a Senior Associate in Dentons Hamilton Harrison and Matthews, a leading law firm in Kenya.

Gregor Pannike

Gregor Pannike

Gregor Pannike is the founder and managing director of Agema Analysts.

Liz Lenjo

Liz Lenjo

Liz Lenjo is the Founder and Managing Consultant of MyIP Legal Studio.

Angela Kioi

Angela Kioi

Angela Kioi is a legal compliance expert, negotiator and ADR practitioner.

Roy Mwamba

Roy Mwamba

Roy Mwamba is the founder and managing partner at Mwamba Gitonga Advocates.



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