Impunity in Kenya

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On February 1st, a rich businessman ran over a guard and killed him in the affluent area of Runda. Minutes after the accident, the man was captured on video talking about the way his car had also ‘sustained injuries’ and everyone had some kind of injury.

By the time this clip was being released, the man’s badly damaged car was no longer at the police station, the dead man was in a mortuary somewhere and it seemed like all would come back to normal. I was incensed.

Apparently Kenya is still run by people who have money, and lots of it. In this case even though it is really clear that a man had been killed, from the beginning of the investigation, anomalies begin to appear.

The businessman pleaded not guilty, but only after missing his court date because he had gone to see a ‘doctor’ to check out his bruised ribs. Please note that immediately after the accident in his apparently drunken stupor, he was walking, talking arrogantly and lording over all the people around.

Meanwhile, a man is dead.His dreams are dead. If he had family, they are at a loss and mourning. One wonders whether the poor would have any justice in Kenya.

In August 2015, a local pastor was allegedly found to have directly caused the death of a woman due to reckless driving.

In Kenya, it is frowned on when pastors are involved in crime and they are expected to respond to the crime in a ‘Christian’ way. Ideally to apologize, admit wrong when necessary and try as much as possible to settle matters out of court.

Not so for this one. Pastor Ng’ang’a had a major problem in his hands. There were many alleged versions of this accident. In the beginning, the car was his, he was in the car driving and may or may not have been accompanied by an unidentified female. Some even alleged that he had been intoxicated.

However, by the time the saga unraveled, major details had changed. The car was no longer his – number plates had been altered and who knows maybe even ownership?

He insisted that he not been at the accident scene initially; he only had come to help an injured church member. It is not clear who the injured church member was or why he called for the pastor’s help.

It emerged that a certain gentleman had volunteered to corroborate the pastor’s story but had since recanted having been charged with colluding with the accused to circumvent justice.

In broken English, the pastor denied any involvement in the accident and despite a hearing in November 2015, there is yet to be a ruling on the same. For such cases usually the excitement fades off then the accused pays off some people appropriately and we all move on. Meanwhile, a family suffers unnecessary death.

I live on a road, which many must use to exit the city going west; Waiyaki-Way is the most direct way of leaving Nairobi to go to the Western side of the country or to Uganda and Rwanda.

For major land locked countries, Kenya is still a critical way to transport goods from the Kenyan port to inland destinations. One of the consistent things about Waiyaki-Way is that it is littered with cops.

I have experienced several situations where the police neglect inspecting a vehicle just because the driver, or conductor pays a certain sum. In addition, for frequent users, they pay in advance and are rarely stopped or inspected leading to a surge in illegal activity, little wonder terrorists have easy access to Kenya.

There have also been incidences of human trafficking and drug trafficking across borders; all because money dictates the rules of engagement.

Why do the rich get away with atrocities? Why do the poor never have justice? Why is money linked to justice? We have supported a society whereby people are desperate to get ahead, to get money and to have a better life.

As a result, that is all that matters. The truth is discarded based on how much money an interested party can make on a transaction. Much as Kenyans pride themselves in being modern and being the most preferred destination to start a business in East Africa, we still have a lot to work on.

International businesses are still asked for hefty bribes to establish operations in Kenya. Unfortunately these bribes barely lead to momentary uproar which does not end in any action.

Disgraced public officials proudly engage in politics and even stand to be elected back into office; unfazed by the fact that they had been pushed out on office on corruption allegations.

I am pained to live in a country where money is everything, to the extent that justice means nothing, unless it is accompanied by a cash payment. Justice should not be driven by finance, and the responsibility of the government is to ensure that officials are able conduct their duties without fear.

John Githongo contributed to the writing of the book “It is our Turn to Eat”. He is now concerned that the corruption in Kenya has increased and I agree with him. Government devolution gives an opportunity for officials in the devolution agenda to siphon money to weird projects and also misuse government funds.

In addition, MPs have discovered that when they want to achieve their own aspirations, all they have to do is pass directive voted on by the majority of members.

In Kenya, it pays to be rich, little reason why people continue to swindle, rob, kill and obliterate others; believing that their only chance is in getting grotesquely rich, because then they can get away with anything.

When you are rich enough, apparently you can make up the rules as you go.

Vera has a Masters in Global Policy Studies and has completed the RGK Center of Nonprofit Studies Portfolio Program. She completed her undergraduate studies in International Studies at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Vera is passionate about Africa and hopes to work there someday.

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