Saturday, January 14, 2012

Of Kenyan Authorities and Daft Crime

Show of many of us have fallen prey to crime in Kenya?

Phew! Good to know am not alone.

 You need not be Kenyan -- or possess any analytical cogs in the mechanics of your evaluation of life for that matter -- to appreciate that crime is bred by preparedness and/or opportunity.

On the one hand, preparedness could be voluntary; perhaps you had the motive and acted upon it by committing a petty or much grander crime. On the other it could be involuntary; , maybe you did not realize the you had the motive till a need you had was complemented - and indeed complimented - by the opportunity to act upon it.

We lost 4bn shillings and not 8bn...Tuko Pamoja
In the first scenario, where the need was recognized way before the crime was perpetrated, and as such used to plan the crime, perhaps extreme poverty was your excuse, albeit a poor one. Perhaps your excuse was the grand political thuggery, albeit an escapist one. For in truth, nothing excuses lawbreaking, but something often explains it.

Premeditated crimes, however, are not the subject of discussion today, for those kindsa crimes warrant prison sentences I am unwilling  not equipped to delve into.

When indigence spreads, so does villainy - especially theft and property crime.
                                                                                                      Matthew D'Ancona
Let's talk crimes of opportunity instead. To do that, perhaps more pertinent is the definition of crime in the reality that is the Kenyan context, in which case crime is anything that will land you in jail. If cases such as the Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing, Petroleum et al. scams prove anything, it's that landing in jail is primarily at the whims of the powers that be; so do the following cases:

A Conviction of Convenience

I  know this guy currently serving a 3 year prison term, for...wait for it...passing out. You heard me. He drunk too much and passed out. And for that he's now doing hard time. Well, there are some finer details to it. Say for instance how he was also guilty of abject stupidity caused by excessive consumption of cheap liquor. Cheap...but essentially legal.  Add to that the fact that he chose to pass out on the streets, in an alley where Kenyan afandes were re-enacting a scene from Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. 

So the robbers ditch the gun under the passed-out drunk, and closed! No investigations, no tax-payers' money 'wasted', no nothing. Guilty as charged. Gavel strikes...and just like that, a man serves a 3-year sentence.

Malicious Renditions of Convenience

Case in point: Al-Amin Kimathi, Executive Coordinator for the Muslim Human Rights Forum, MHRF, currently under illegal incarceration in Uganda. He had gone visiting his son at the Makerere University when Kenyan citizens were illegally - notice the trend? - transported to Ugandan Police remand after the bombings in June last year. Cue the call from their families - all muslim - asking him to advocate for their release during what was to be his brief stay in Uganda. To contextualize what happens next, in September 2008, Mr Kimathi co-edited a report of what is summarized as the US-led Mass Extra-Ordinary Renditions of Over 100 People from Kenya to Somalia, Ethiopia and Guantanamo Bay between Jan 07 and Aug 07 and Subsequent Counter-Terrorism Operations in Kenya. It would be titled the Horn of Terror, a collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for East Africa

In introducing the Recommendation and Appeals section, the report reads verbatim:
"The MHRF is of the strongest conviction that the Kenya government is primarily responsible for the violations...for the disregard of both international and national law, the disregard for the human and legal rights of the detainees and their continued illegal incarceration and all the suffering they were occasioned by the arbitrary arrests and illegal deportations..."

Mr Kimathi prior to his arrest
It's no small wonder thus, that he was on 16th September 2010 himself subjected to arbitrary
- and indeed ironic - arrest, accused of masterminding the bombings and is yet to see the right of free daylight.


Now compare the two cases. In scenario one we have an unknown man, conveniently in a dark alley next to an abandoned weapon used in a robbery.In scenario two we have a public figure, conveniently in a dark dungeon as a direct result of painstakingly fighting for the rights of his brothers. Are these not crimes of opportunity?

They are exactly that. Only the crime was perpetrated by those who are technically above the law in a vehemently corrupt system...yet the two men remain undeservedly detained in their stead.

Daft crime. But you know what's even more positively perverse? Read the papers. An inconsequential stud makes headlines. Watch TV. Swaggerific makes the 9 o'clock. Listen to Classic 105. Pure gibberish and utter bollocks served chilled by the morning hosts as you jav to town each morning.

Only when we lose everything are we free to do anything.
Truth be told their plights do not matter. They only begin to matter when we as a people get past the idea that it's never that serious. But since that won't happen any time soon in the Kenyan timeline, their plights will have to matter to those of us who know their stories and know who they were before their ordeals with the wrong arm of the law. People such as myself; for maybe it wouldn't matter that much to me either were Al-Amin Kimathi not my mother's brother. That, fellow Kenyans, is the sad truth of our being. Until it touches you personally, it's never that serious.

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