About three years to be exact, a friend of mine was tasked with an assignment that involved talking to police officers. She contacted and visited various police stations but was directed to their public relations office for information. The police, it seems were not keen on giving specific information without going through the right channels. This was encouraging and even admirable, or so we thought.
This week, a story was published in an international British paper and Kenyan police were quite happy to furnish the writer with as many details as possible. The story even had a scanned copy of a statement from one of the chief witnesses prompting one of the online readers to post the comment:
"Bizarre. Do the Met (British police force) release statements like this? Seems really odd in a murder enquiry to photocopy hand written evidence for general circulation."â Colin, Huddersfield
To make matters worse, a police commander and senior detective went on to speculate about the dating habits of the witness in question as well as her earning power and choice of neighbourhood. In a few sentences the two managed to smear the name of the witness without providing any evidence. It seemed the cops were more concerned with covering their behinds and making it look like they were doing something about the crime.
The same thing happened when thugs attacked a young man on a night out. Following the public uproar concerning the lack of safety in Nairobi, the police from their lofty position stated that the man should not have been out at night. Pray tell where should he have been? Perhaps In his bed because the police force has lost the battle against violent crime in the city centre?
In another case, after a robbery in a local estate police failed the test after shunting the investigation between three different stations stating that it was not within their jurisdiction arrived with a pencil and a torn sheet of paper from a primary maths book. Surely?
There are countless accounts of Kenyans going to the police and receiving no help at all. Many people would rather shut up about a crime or than approach the police, as most know it is an exercise in futility.
Most Kenyans will tell you that they have learned from a young age not to trust the police. We donât even know who we should trust and we are in essence what the popular campaign has coined a âGeneration Jipangeâ. Jipange meaning look out for yourself because if you donât, nobody else will.
Many of us relate to the message in the popular Sauti Sol song Blue Uniform. Being harassed by police for your identity card as if you are a black person living under the former apartheid regime.