MY ARREST: The “Friends” I met in the Cells

My arrest on that Friday 6th July 2012 was not my first ever arrest neither was it the first time I spend some time in a police cell. If my m,memory serves me right, my first ever experience with the police and cells at that was in 2001, then I was a small boy who had just passed his KCPE examination at Nayng’oma Kogelo Primay School and due to unavoidable circumstances, I was on the verge of being a statistic on the number of orphaned children who dropped out of school due to lack of school fees or the lack of goodwill to aid them with raising the same. The idea of one day being somebody’s herder for a 500/- monthly salary, a boda boda cyclist, a village drunk due to frustration etc. drove me to sneek away from home in the wee hours of January 2001 when the better part of Kogelo Village was a sleep and jump into a bus to Niarobi to come and try trace a few old family friends whose promise of “being there when needed” was still frsh in my mind years after my Mum’s burial ceremony.
It was unfortunate that i did not manage to trace any. This rendered me a vagrant… I had no place to live, no one to turn to and the only option was to eek a living on the streets… Well, I was there for six (6) months. Within that time so much happened, I did as many things as possible to survive and surviving I did… Until that evening that police came from nowhere to pounce on us and we ended up in Muthaiga Police Station. Those days, the cells were packed to the brim. I remember the OCS insisting that we be locked up with the women for fear that if we got mixed up with the males, we would either suffer unknown consequences or learn to jump the ropes from “petty criminals” to hardcore guys.

I finaly got to go to the Children’s Court where I was sent to Kabete Children’s Remand Prison. The stay there was not very pleasant but thank God, Mathare Youths Sports Association (MYSA), in one of their feeding and repatriation programmes notice this kid who was really good in football and hat is how I ended up in the hands of James Omondi Otieno- Odijo (The Current Head Coach of KCB Football Team) and Stephen Tete (Former Mathare and Mahaka Football Team Player). The rest as it is always recounted is history…

After that incident I manged to do so many things and make so many mistakes in the course of the same… I have jumped a host of huddles and crossed so many bridges… I have actually been lucky to create my own milestones in the process…. and yes, I have also got myself in trouble with the police for either “knowing too much” or just “acting dumb”. I have been arrested and spent a night or two in police cells around town. Twice at Central Police and once at some AP Police Camp and Buru Buru Police Station.

Of all this, my best experience ever was my last stint in the hands of Police Constable Mbuvi and Police Constable Afuda… Those two clueless CID officers who arrested me on that Friday afternoon. In fact, my stay at seven (7) hours Kilimani Police Station was the most interesting as I managed to meet quite an interesting lot. One, because the cells were virtually empty, thanks to the new 24 hour rule and two, because of the people I met while there…
I have decided to share the experience of my newly met friends with you so that you can get to know the kinds of people in police cells around Kenya. I will not use their real names though

1. George

George is a white guy in his mid-40s. He is here to have his finger prints taken so that he can “be released” having amicably agreed with the police that he will help them with an investigation… What Investigation?

Well, George happens to be a procurement officer for a firm that suppliers far produce. The firm is owned by one of Kenya’s “Big Five” families. He is here because he is the sacrificial lamb. His company worn a tender to supply some produce to three organizations, being the PO, he actually negotiated the deals and signed papers on behalf of his company. Little did he know that the company would not be able to honor these agreement and when it was evident that the company was not able to meet the contractual agreements, the clients went to the police and yes, George, being the contact person, ended up in police custody.

This is is second month in the hands o the police. He was arraigned in court but had to be taken to Industrial Area Remand Prison as investigations were being carried out. he has stayed in Inda for one month and the other time he has been shifted from one police station to the other. Today though, he managed to talk to his wife, who got in touch with some of the complainants and they have struck a deal that will see him released only and only if he agrees to testify against his employer. He agreed to the term and if everything go on as planned, he will be out by Monday.

2. Kennedy

Ken is a young guy who decided that he does not want to leave the police custody. His is a rather complicated case that leaves you sympathetic. He lost his dad a while ago after a long illness. The family has not been able to raise enough money to settle his dad’s medical bill hence the body has been detained in some mortuary in Western Kenya for four (4) months now. Just while they were trying to get to know what next, his mother “decided” to die and all eyes are on him… He is a casual laborer with a wage of about 300/- a day (if he is lucky to get a job).

On the day he got the news of his mothers death, he decided to “get lost” coz all these was too much for him… So while walking home to Kawangware from a building construction site in Nairobi’s Eastlands, he decided to do the unthinkable… When he got to Hurlingharm, he saw this guy talking on phone while driving a classy car, his mind told him to snatch the phone which he did and when the guy shouted, a mob decided to follow him and yes, that is the time he though brilliantly to run into Kilimani Police Station. Well, he won. First, he found a reason to be locked in and “get lost” from his troubles and two, he escaped death.

The owner of the phone took his phone back, Ken was arraigned in court the next day and the routine, he was sent to Inda where he has been for three months. Today he is back at Kilimani coz he was in court and the judge ordered the arresting officer to furnish the court with evidence and exhibits. Unfortunately, the owner of the phone is unreachable, he never wrote ant statements neither did he leave a contact and oh my, he went with his phone. The police and their shoddiness, have no otherwise but to try and rectify this problem. If not, Ken will be leaving state custody soonest. A matter that really depresses him.

3. Ahmed

Ahmed is an American Citizen of Somali decent… He is an alumnus of Daadab Refugee Camp and a beneficiary the relocation/resettlement program of the UNHCR and IOM, six years ago.  He arrived in Kenya a few days into June and he went to visit his family in Daadab less than 24 hours of his arrival. Well, there is nothing wrong with that, however, the problem is that Ahmed had only a one (1) way ticket. How could he travel to Kenya all the way from the US on a one way ticket and head to Daadab straight?

In the wake of the Garrissa grenade attacks, there was a swop in Daadab and yes, he was one great suspect. After questioning and interrogations, he was arraigned in court with some charge that he cannot explain… The Magistrate  gave him a wild card and advised him to get his return ticket back to the US within seven (7) days faikure to which he will be sent to jail. He managed to get a ticket within three days and when he appeared in court the previous day he showed the ticket and was “apparently set free” but he had to report to the police daily until the 14th July 2012 when he was to leave Kenya. Oh, and he was to be escorted out of the country by security officers.

Hoping that he had walked to freedom after eight (8) days of anguish, Ahmed found himself at the back of a police car just as he left the court compound and yes, he was in Nairobi.  His phone and passport are with the police and he has been taken to four (4) different police stations since he arrived in Nairobi. His attempts to get the US Embassy have been futile as his phone was grabbed from him while he was talking to an officially from the embassy and eventually switched off. Geoge and myself are really worried for Ahmed but there is little we can do.

5. Jacky

Jacky is an employee of at one of the Asian Countries diplomat’s houses. She says she is here because her boss got her arrested for “conspiring” to defraud him. She doesn’t understand what this is all about as according to her, her boss has been making sexual advances to her which she has refused for the longest haul possible.

She claims that on the night of her arrest, her boss had called her earlier in the evening and instructed her that he was hosting a small meeting and needed her presence to aid the other domestic at his residence to handling the guests. She obliged. When she got there, there were no guest or signs of any and the bombshell was dropped. She had been set up…

It has been four days now, she does not know her arresting officers, she does not understand why she is not being held at the Diplomatic Police Unit because that is the story that she has been given over and over, Kilimani Police Station is waiting for her to be transfered to DPU. She only hopes that things will be well.

5. Shei

Shei is a young guy who has a history of working for this country as a human rights activist. he is a former employee of King’ara Foundation owned by the slain activist Oscar King’ara and G.P.O Oulu, who were murdered in cold blood along Nairobi’s State House Road by unknown men believed to be government operatives due to their involvement in the investigations on extra judicial killing of youths in central Kenya believed to be Mungiki.

Shei happens to know me, albeit physically. He is a great follower of my blog and a friend on facebook. His story is something I will not share but all I can say is that Shei is being harassed by the authorities simply because they believe that he has copies of the reports that led to Oscar and GPOs murder. He tells me that the harassment has been ongoing and it has seen his house raided and so many things. As a matter of fact, his brother had to flee to Tanzania just a day before Shei was arrested for the umpteenth time this year. He was arraigned in court sometime back and that he was given a free bond.

My hope is that all these guys will realize their freedom soon if they haven’t yet.I hope that when I finaly get my phones from the police, i will get messages from them telling me that they are ok, coz I gave them my phone numbers not knowing that the police will keep them till now… One Month Later!


One thought on “MY ARREST: The “Friends” I met in the Cells

  1. :-)…Msanii, you are unbelievable! That despite the not so comfortable situation you had found yourself in, you still managed to get close enough to know your roommates and their stories with all the gory (and interesting) details. One Salute for you Sir Roy!

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