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Life in Kenya: When The Police Are The Crooks And The Magistrates Malingerers (Part 2)

Life in Kenya: When The Police Are The Crooks And The Magistrates Malingerers (Part 2)

If you haven’t done so already, scroll down to Part 1 to read the first installment of this little saga… then read on.


This Kenya Forum correspondent was sitting in downstairs section of a central Nairobi restaurant, reading a newspaper over a cup of coffee, killing 20 minutes before attending a meeting nearby.

In walks a friend, a lawyer by trade, clearly frustrated and needing both a coffee and to let off steam.

The cause of annoyance was that she had just come from the local magistrates’ court where a case in which she was acting for the defence had yet again been postponed because the police, for the prosecution, had not brought along the relevant file… again.

She had questioned the police officer in the corridor outside the courtroom, she related.

“What is your name?” the lawyer asked.

“I can’t tell you”, replied the police officer.

“What is the name of your superior officer?” she asked.

“I don’t know”, replied the police officer.

“OK, which police station do you work out of?” she asked.

“I don’t know”, said the police officer.

The lawyer then explained why this absurdity had taken place. Apparently the police knew that they could not win the case so all they had to do was to fail to bring the relevant file along and eventually the whole affair would fall by the legal wayside.

“Couldn’t you take this up with the magistrate?” your correspondent asked her.

The lawyer said she would have done and was most intent on doing so but the magistrate didn’t turn up for the court case anyway. Apparently the non- arrival of magistrates is a daily theme of legal life in the courts of central Nairobi. Meanwhile the list of delayed case grows longer.

We have a new Constitution. We have a new Bill of Rights. We have a new Chief Justice. It is all pointless, however, says the Kenya Forum, if the police do not feel they have to obey any rules, or even just decent behaviour, and the magistrates feel they do not have to turn up to court if it doesn’t suit them.


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