How my poor community responded with timely creed of “Yes We Can.”
Charge: Threatening to Kill.
This week began as usual for me I spent the better part of Monday at Kituo Cha Sheria although I was unsuccessful in securing the Copy of Court Order I was looking for since all the lawyers were out of town I planned to return the next day which was on Tuesday, I proceeded to Center for Rights Education Awereness Organization (CREAW) where I had a successful meeting with Exercutive Director deliberating on how my community can work together to save tax-payer 290 million.
The next day I woke a bit early due to one of the neighbors request i arbitrate an issue where a youngster was smacked in the head by the local football coach and fainted, the parents had come to request I intervene by requesting the coach to settle the hospital bill they had incurred the previous day or he take legal action, since it was almost 6 am, I requested them to give me till 8 am, I will do as agreed. I returned to my house as I was planning my day on key issues I had to attend to such as, a visit to the local Area Chief to enquire from him any action he has taken against some callous businessmen that had trimmed the stem bark of 2, thirty plus years old trees, left to dry in order to secure open space next to Muthurwa Market for expansion of a pub, secondly I was planning to visit Akiba Uhaki and Katiba Institute to present a proposal I had in regards to an advocacy sporting project for this year 12:12:12 titled “Sport and games to tame Climate Change.”
What’s at Stake.
In line with the above I was planning to do a follow up with Kituo Cha Sheria lawyers in regards to a copy of Court Order issued by Justice Musinga in Petition No 65 of 2010 stopping the sale, evictions and demolitions of Muthurwa Estate which is a 56 acre land within the Nairobi Central Business District to furnish it to the new Officer in Charge of Kamukunji Station who was enquiring of it in order to report to his seniors of alleged 2 groupings registered as Maestro Properties Ltd and KERAPA circulating 2 yrs lease demand letters to each Muthurwa residents letter dated 23rd-October,2012 signed by Director of Alexander Forbes Financial Services (East Africa)Ltd James Olubayi and Anthony Kilavi indicating that it they have consented to KERAPA and Maestro Ltd to collect rent and over see managing the estate.
A Follow-up letter was issued to residents on 14th-Nov,2012 signed by D.N.Rono-Managing Director of Maestro Properties Ltd to each household in Muthurwa raising tension and people enquiring from Kituo Cha Sheria the status of the court case since what was happening at the estate was an acceptable, i.e two weeks ago we managed to chase a group of construction workers who had tried to construct a structure in an acre open space parcel of Land between Muthurwa KPLC land and Muthurwa Market, this open space has been left after KPLC illegally constructed a 16 K.v Power Substation contravening the Court Order in our case which stopped developments on the said area , this same grouping twice has tried to demarcate and fraudulently got money on disguise of allocating rental houses and open spaces for business within the estate, extortion to businessmen. I had also planned to contact a renowned lawyer-Elisha Ongoya, I had been connected to by Ann Njogu in regards to saving Kenyans tax payer money amounting to about 290 Million money that may be lost if the Constructor of Muthurwa Market is awarded final amount by Ministry of Local government for a shoddy job done of constructing Muthurwa dilapidated market.
As I was planning on how to go about the above issues, I heard a knock in my door, as I opened I found an officer from Muthurwa Police post and 3 others in civilian clothing standing strategically in my yard. He informed me that he has been requested to present me to OCS Kamukunji, I requested the officer to allow me a few minutes to freshen up, which he did standing outside my door and enquiring of general issues in regards to several stickers I have pasted outside my door such as “We live, breath and die on Human Environmental rights issues, Intolerance and discrimination breed oppression-by KHRC, We demand reforms and Justice: Tunadai Marekebisho na Haki by KHRC, June 26 UN International Day in support of torture survivors- by IMLU,Access to Information is a right not a favour -by TI and ACT.”
The officer whom I noted is of Inspector rank is a graduate and had embraced human rights issues and a good advocate on the same to his fellow officer, I completed and talked to several residents and informed them of issues at hand, we presided to Kamukunji Station where I was taken to OCS office where the investigating officer and 3 other officers were requested to join us he informed me how one of Alexander Forbes group Director known as Anthony Kilavi had visited Kamukunji Police Station in cohort with Robert Azaria Secretary General of KERAPA an association which was involved in sale of Muthurwa estate, hence the residents instituted the 2 court cases barring this grouping that was involved in illegally selling the estate.Mr.Kilavi from Alexeder Forbes had a day earlier informed the OCS that they have consented for Maestro Group and KERAPA to manage the estate, hence the trumped up charge on Threatening to Kill a member of KERAPA was created within the time, having worked closely with the OCS Kamukunji in regards to Community Policing issues for Muthurwa estate.
Pressure and in-subordination to OCS Kamukunji.
The officer being a gentle man talked of pressure he is getting from his seniors in Central Police Station on claims he is not working and protecting KERAPA and Maestro group from me inciting the community against them, he informed me he has been directed to arrest me, but on a humanitarian ground he will charge me with a lesser charge of creating disturbance, which the Investigating Officer went ahead and booked me with after trying to talk to him about the Court Order on the estate. I was hurriedly taken my finger prints and taken to cells, in a few minutes earlier I was shocked when 2 police women officers taking my finger print in room No.12 indirectly insinuated to me that before I reach court room they will change my case to a more severe criminal offence that will take me a long time before I come out of jail, I noted the hostility of this 2 plumb ladies officers and alcoholic breath they were emitting that early in the morning.
Once the process was over I was taken to a waiting 4 seater rickety bluish Peugeot van and escorted to Makadara law Courts hand cuffed and sandwiched between two police officers. Once in Makadara I was booked and thrown in cell where I met a cell full of youngsters from various police stations in eastlands. I noted while in cells two different lawyers visited us and enquired if there was anyone who would like to be represented of course on a fee to be agreed upon. Meanwhile after almost an hour in the cell, i was again recalled and the officer informed me that the Creating Disturbance I was charged with was defective, hence I had to be taken to Kamukunji Police Station, I was hurriedly returned to Kamukunji station, where I was re-booked and an newer charge of” Threatening to Kill” was prepared by the two ladies officers, bragging that I am going to stay in Prison for quite a long period if I will be unable to pay bail amounting to about Ksh100,000.
Community and Comrades:
Luckily for me when the charge was prepared I was handcuffed and taken back to the rickety Peugeot vehicle luckily for me hundreds of residents from my community had converged at the entrance of the station where I talked to them and I informed them about an the Maestro and KERAPA Group charges they have instituted against me and the new charges and the Makadara Law court I was to be taken again. The scenario brought commotion and hundreds of people began shouting and wailing that led the entire area tense, luckly the vehicle stalled before leaving, this led to more people shouting at police, hence the police were still forcing me to tell people to stop shouting and abusing them, I informed them to remove first the handcuffs from me, which they refused claiming that I will free, I informed them to bear with the community since the residents knew of the whole issues being concocted KERAPA and Maestro Group. This instance gave me courage and hope that activism has been embraced by the citizens. I contacted several comrades and friends, Gacheke Gachihi whom initiated the process of circulating information and looking for well-wishers for bail and support. Cidi Otieno the President Bunge La Mwanainchi and Bressol Gathoni of GALK and George Mwai of Fahamu whom really assisted in different ways. Kituo Lawyers, Boniface. Tallam. Anthony and Kinya all whom were out of Nairobi.
Jury in Makadara Court:
I was 3rd last to be presented in court No.1 at around 11.45 am to a fully in and out packed court No. 1, I can view all and sundry from Muthurwa estate, the charges were read to me by the court clerk which read that I had “Threatened to kill” parties Kenya Police Kamukunji Vs Patrick Kamotho Githinji. Having no legal representation on hand, lawyer James Etemesi formerly of Kituo Cha Sheria whom was well placed to intervene being on record on our Public Interest Litigation petitionNo.65 of 2010 and court case No.365 of 2010 which had given the restraining orders against any groups from interfering with Muthurwa estate land No.209/6502, the lawyer was out of town and requested that I request the Judge to place the case for a mention the following day. As my plea was read and requested to consent or to deny I immediately raised my hand and told the court of the request by the lawyer and the restraining orders in court cases related to Muthurwa estate, luckily the judge accepted to listen to issues and court case I was referring to, she tried to persuade me to accept or denying the charge which I refused and informed the judge that the reason the court was fully packed was due to this court case, when she observed this she directly asked the audience if it is true that I had “Threatened to Kill” the entire court room shouted back NO !! I could see immediately raised hands in court and Prison Guard on alert, the entire room was tense and the orderlies tried to hush the court. The Judge returned to me and directly informed me since I have refused to consent or deny the community has denied on my behalf, immediately I informed her that isn’t collect although the charge carries an average bond of Ksh 100,000/= she directed for a bail of Ksh 40,000.Imediately I completed as soon I turned to return to cells the packed court left leaving the court entirely empty. Which much later the prison officer whom was within the court informed me that the judge somehow enquired of whether there was something fishy with the case the prosecutor consented on having such a feeling.
“Timely Creed of Yes We Can.”
Immediately I was charged the community converged outside the law court and fundraised immediately Ksh 8,455 this was communicated to me Immediately by phone, then an improptu committee was established to fundraise the remaining amount which residents reconvened at Muthurwa estate at noon and began house to house voluntary fundraising, which after a record 8 hours the committee had fundraised Ksh 34,000.even a simple coin of 1 Sh was accepted and by midnight the committee had raised about Ksh 43,721.In the morning the residents continued to support and the amount increased to Ksh 47,134.
The community embarked towards paying the 40,000 bond requested the following day to the Kenya Commercial Bank a new initiative established by the Chief Justice Hon.Dr.Willy Mutunga earlier this year to tame rampant corruption in judicial, immediately they presented receipt of paid bail, my file went mysteriously missing this prompted the group to part with an average of Ksh750 which facilitated for file reappearance, urgent clearance and signing of the file by the judge, this was according to the group representative whom recounted how at Makadara Law Court Prison Police, watchmen and court clerks are corrupt.
During this time Right Protection and Promotion (RPP) and RNCHRD had sent a cheque and mobilized others defenders with similar amount to pay for my bail, although they found the community had settled the amount an hour earlier I was thankful of this gesture. Once my release documents were signed around noon, the entire committee group mobilized hundreds of residents towards Industrarial Remand Prison, where a top rank prison officer, came to personally look for me where I had been located in Block J-11 which I noted had a sizeable inmates per dormitory, unlike the previous time I had spent 2 months in the same prison, regular food in remand still needs to be improved on, while such food like kales(Sukuma Wiki )had improved in shredding in size, prisoners are still fed on yellowish kales stalks/stems, the beans we took previous evening were still uncooked well and mixed with stones particles. The quality of porridge was okay and mild sugar could be enjoyed, the Prison officer have greatly improved on Human Rights and restraining attitude they have embraced humanity, only an instance I noted was when an officer by mistake hit a young remandee by mistake in the forehead that led to a cut and a head breeding of the youngster, this prompted his friends to take him to hospital bay, later on I noted the officer and the youngster were taken to main quarters of Prison where the top brass of prison work from, later on the youth returned and the officer we were informed later that he was requested to write a letter explaining his actions, this is among the improvements I could notice for 2 years I left the remand.
While my release was being prepared in Prison departure lounge, the senior police office whom had come to inquire me began asking on why such a large crowd of people could converge for me, I informed him of human rights and sincerely in addressing peoples problem such as fighting crime, human rights, creating opportunities for young people i.e. urban farming, access to medication especially ART for those venerable in community. The officer said in 6 years he has been a Prison Officer he had never seen such a crowd of people coming to visit or to release a Prisoner. He gave me a strong hand shake and wished me well. Outside the gate when I was released jubilation erupted and songs of joy could be heard from a far. I thanked the residents and all those who had spent the full days trying to secure my freedom.
Issues to be addressed:
After my release I have noted that the Alexander Forbes Ltd Director James Olubayi has dis-owned a letter issued to residents with his signature on 23rd October, 2012 and has indicated it is a forgery.
It becomes a concern to me given that I have spent time in remand due to trumped up charges by same (KERAPA) case which I was acquitted last year after suffering and undergoing unimaginable health and financial constraints.
Currently the community is organizing a major procession to Office of the President and Police Commissioner petitioning for the arrest of both Mr.Robert Azaria and his irk.
Among the captivating placards developed will strongly condemn Alexander Forbes Financial Services (EA) Ltd if they don’t take action against Mr.Kilavi and Mr.Azaria and the group operating at Muthurwa offices in line with offering a public apology in a weeks time to Muthurwa residents.
N/b A request I would like to place before Chief Justice Republic of Kenya he should address urgently the issue of food quality in remands and also direct for access to those in custody by their families once in Court Cells countrywide, where people can inform or send for their next of Kin.
Meanwhile I will be working closely with RPP and NCHRD on securing legal representative to address the pending court case and see if its possible to institute a civil suit against the KERAPA scheme of Kenya Railways Pensioner in case No 735 of 2009 which I was acquitted last year.
I pass my deepest and sincerest thanks and appreciation for those who in one way or the other supported or inquired of my well being, thanks may great God of Abraham light their paths, showdown looms and Yes We Can.
Patrick Kamotho. An alumni of Fahamu Pan African fellowship. .