Public relations or not, continue with arrests

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been accused of many things. Chief of which has been the claim that his fight against corruption is a public relations(PR) exercise, and that his charge sheets are too long.

He is said to arrest suspects on Fridays as a way of ensuring they can only be arraigned in court on a Monday; only for him to ask for extensions to 'complete investigations'. Since I am not a lawyer, I will not argue the merits or the demerits of such charges.

However, I am reminded of the arrest of Roger Stone, the infamous republican political fixer. His arrest was something straight out of a movie. Heavily armed police in full Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) fatigues stormed his house in the wee hours to arrest an unarmed 66-year-old man.

Followed by TV cameras, one would have thought Stone lived in a bullet proof bunker and was armed to the teeth. The arrest made headline news and with that it delivered a message - the FBI was not fibbing about.

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It took political cries seriously and the nation and indeed the world, should know that no one is safe from its reach. The force used was a matter of PR, to pass a message to the USA and to the world that they are not mucking about when it comes to the crimes allegedly committed by the Trump campaign.

Similarly, in Botswana when a high ranking government official landed back from foreign travel, he was greeted by a slew of journalists and a bevy of police officers ready to arrest him.

This was PR: evidenced by the fact that Media were invited to film the spectacle and the person being arrested even asked if the arrest was conducted in such a way as to embarrass him.

Handle corruption

You see, to the courts you are innocent until pronounced guilty, but to the DCI and DPP you must be guilty, otherwise they would not arrest you. They have to be convinced that you are a criminal who deserves to have his liberties withdrawn. Thus, the argument for innocence does not hold water for arresting officers, they know the suspect is guilty, that is why one is arrested.

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As such, the arrest for the DCI and DPP should be taken as an opportunity not only to showcase the capability of these offices to handle corruption crimes but also to pass a strong message to the nation. The first message is simple enough: we are coming for you! You are next!

This message is a powerful one and should be exploited to its maximum effect. As such the DPP and DCI should continue to arrest and make a huge splash in the media about it. Because a public arrest is an effective deterrent for others who would have involved themselves in corruption because they will fear being arrested in such a manner.

Second an arrest equals the fall of a hero, which is a key element in the psychological fight against corruption - we who have hero-worshiped thieves and lords of corruption are always affected by the fall of a hero. It changes the narratives in our heads.

This is why our parents told us stories of how greedy hyenas ate hot stones dipped in blood, or how flashy hares can’t beat the steady tortoise. It is important that we begin to show that the corrupt are the villains and we who keep to the straight and narrow are eventual heroes. Kenyans must see evil fall, and this fall must be televised, live if necessary.

The third effect is the healing of those who have been injured by the corrupt. Believe me there is nothing as satisfying as seeing someone who once harassed you finally eating humble pie.

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It gives one instant hope in humanity and the triumph of good over evil. Just like in the Cinderella tale when the wicked stepmother gets her just desserts or in sleeping beauty when the witch is finally defeated, so must these villains be defeated.

It gives hope to those who stood against them and it gives reprieve to victims. It is no small thing for those who have lost loved ones to watch the accused galavant in government vehicles while they languish in poverty and pain. This is why arrests have to be a matter of PR, otherwise the DCI might as well whistle in a storm, where no one hears the tune.

The fear

The courts may be the place where justice is done, but the Media is the place where justice is seen to be done. The Media is the place where we change the attitudes and narratives of Kenyans towards corruption. The Media is the place where we put the fear of Jesus in the pubic when it comes to corruption.

The Media is where we turn the legacy of the corrupt to dust and file them in the same place as wicked witches and evil step mothers of childhood tales.

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So Mr Haji and Mr Kinoti fear not the naysayers, continue with kamata kamata Friday, show the action that it is not business as usual and get a nice SWAT team and a live Tv crew and arrest some big fish commando style, we will be clapping in our houses as we see justice done!

Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]

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