Meet Katitu, Githurai super cop now behind bars

Popularly known as Katitu the supercop, Titus Ngamau now whiles his time at the Industrial Area remand prison as he awaits resolution of his case. [PHOTO:ANGELA MAINA/STANDARD]

A year ago, Titus Ngamau - a policeman from Githurai, captured the nation’s attention after residents held week-long protests following his arrest and detention on allegations of extra-judicial killing.

Wednesday Life caught up with this “super cop” in Industrial Area’s Remand Prison for an exclusive interview where he narrated the events that led to his incarceration.

“The case that led to my being put behind bars came about after I intervened in a robbery with violence incidence at Githurai 145 bus terminus last year,” the visibly defiant Ngamau, popularly known as Katitu, begins.

“A suspect snatched a phone from a passenger and I ordered him to stop but he defied and continued running even after I fired two warning shots in the air”.

He says that as a cop, his training tells him that if a robber defies orders, his options are limited to one. Take aim and open fire - that is what he did.

That proved to be the turning point in Ngamau’s life after the suspect’s relatives filed a complaint with Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), accusing the cop of extrajudicial killing.

Ngamau, however, insists evidence of his innocence was demonstrated by the thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Githurai to demand his release.

Most of the time, he says, citizens demonstrate demanding the transfer of an officer not the other way round. Prominent politicians like Ruiru MP Esther Gathogo and Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko also tried to intervene and have him released to no avail.

“Do you think all those thousands of people who demonstrated for a week were fools? They knew I was a dedicated cop who went beyond the call of duty to eliminate crime in Githurai,” he claims.

“I never dragged the suspect from his house. He is the one who brought himself to the scene of robbery where he snatched somebody’s phone”.

The signal he sent to Kasarani Police Station about the robbery and the victims’ occurrence book (OB) report, he explains, were availed to the IPOA investigators.

“I learnt about the allegations in media reports which claimed that I was on the run. Truth is, nobody from IPOA or any other body had contacted me at the time and it was I who voluntarily went to CID Headquarters so they could tell me what wrongs I had committed,” he says.

What further complicated his situation is that Ngamau had, a few months earlier, had a run-in with the deceased’s brother in a robbery with violence incidence a few meters from Githurai stage.

“He too snatched a phone in the same Githurai stage and escaped even after I gave chase with my fellow officer,” Ngamau recalls.

“He changed the t-shirt he was wearing and re-appeared on the same day. But, when I confronted him outside a popular supermarket, he wrestled me to the ground and pinned me down”.

Ngamau says he felt his life was in danger and he fired several shots which killed the suspect instantly.

“I acted in self defense because he was going to stab me. There was a huge crowd of witnesses when all this was happening yet nobody, including IPOA, went on the ground to talk to them. These are some of the issues making police work difficult,” he says.

He was accused of extrajudicial killing after the two incidences, but when reached for a comment the IPOA chairman declined to talk saying he cannot talk on a matter still pending in court.

“I have been denied bail all this time allegedly because I am a threat to witnesses, but truth of the matter is the deceased’s sister went to Norway more than five years ago and I cannot be a threat to her since I do not even have a passport,” Ngamau says.

Besides the first judge withdrawing from the case, he says, 11 of the 15 prosecution witnesses have extolled his industrious nature and dedication to duty.

“As a police officer I was in the line of duty when this incidence happened and I believe it’s within my constitutional right to get bond. I believe there are some powerful forces pushing things behind the scene to ensure I am not released,” he lamented.

As a qualified law-enforcement officer, Ngamau says he feels wasted whiling his time in jail while crime in Githurai has shot back to the skies.

“I feel very bitter when thugs terrorise people and say “pigia Katitu”, Ngamau, who has been surviving on milk and bread for one year due to allergic reaction to jail food, says.

“If I am released today I would go straight to doing what I believe in which is defending mwananchi against criminals”.

Having come to Githurai in 2003, “when shoes were being sold while still on the owners’ feet”, Ngamau embarked on a consistent campaign to rid the neighbourhood of criminal elements in a way that had not been done before.

“With a squad of police officers we launched a campaign that rapidly earned us a reputation as supercops,” the policeman recalls.

“Residents started appreciating our work and volunteering information which further consolidated our work in this dangerous neighbourhood”.

He says while on duty, he follows the commando’s mantra: Shoot before you are shot, see before you are seen and kill before you are killed. He showed us a bullet scar on his right thigh which he claims was sustained during a bloody shootout with six armed robbers.

Besides police work, Ngamau is a guitarist and a musician who delved into the art in 1983 while in class six.

“I started by playing the guitar and as I grew older, my prowess saw me recruited to join the Katitu Boys Band which was very popular in Kenya in the early 1990s and from where I got my nick name Katitu. I also have my own band called Kithangaini Lipualipua Band,” he said.

The father of four, who was accompanied by his wife during the interview, says the detention has taken a huge toll on his family and expressed concern over his children’s education.

“I was able to cater for my children’s needs without a problem but now they depend solely on their mother and well-wishers,” he said while calling for a quick resolution of his case.