A friendly stab in the back
By Nicholas Cheruiyot
| May 9th 2012
By Nicholas Cheruiyot
We had become friends with Leakey for some weeks when I came to know his true colours. Our friendship grew fast because he was my next-door neighbour in Bomet town.
Besides, he had an M-pesa business, which I frequented. Leaky was a quiet man and so he had only few friends who were close to him. However, I knew him only by his first name. He had informed me that he comes from Nakuru.In the evenings, we regularly met at a local joint where we drank together. We never shared the same political inclination but that did not stop us from having long winded talks about current affairs.
Though we knew we were flouting the stringent rules of the service provider, we used to do M-Pesa transaction in unorthodox means. To my benefit, he would deposit money directly to an M-pesa account of anybody I asked him to. This way I evaded the cost of transferring the money. There was also no need for me to have an ID during transactions. He had my ID number at his fingertips. One Friday, it was my turn to receive cash in our small chama. The chama had six members and we made a monthly contribution of Sh5,000 which was given to one member every month. Members met at the usual hotel in town and after the meeting, I emerged from the building happy as my pocket was loaded with Sh25,000. I set aside Sh5,000 for immediate use and proceeded to Leakey’s kiosk to deposit the rest in my M-pesa account.
I noticed some difference in the kiosk when I stepped in. The pictures that had been hanged on the wall were missing.
Leakey was also not in his best moods. I did not want to bother him with questions. I handed him the Sh20,000 and he knew exactly what I wanted. “I am sorry that I cannot effect the transaction now as there is a problem with the system, but I will do it immediately the problem is sorted out,” Leakey informed me as he opened a drawer to put the money in.
“No problem, it is not urgent,” I responded. Before leaving I asked him about the changes I had noticed. He told me that he wanted to put business wallpapers from the service provider.
I left him and boarded a matatu to my rural village. I wanted to spend the weekend with my family as I had something to make them smile. After a one hour travel, I alighted to a heavy drizzle at my village. I then remembered that no M-pesa message had gotten into my inbox. I made a call to Leakey who asked me to be patient till morning. “That problem persisted till I gave up,” he explained. The answer satisfied me. With the shopping I had brought home my younger siblings were full of joy.
I woke up the next day to a busy day tidying my compound. Grass had grown tall and I feared that snakes may make a hiding place out of it. It was 12 noon when I remembered that Leakey had not deposited anything into my account as promised. I tried calling him but the call did not through. I waited for an hour before redialling his number, but I got the same response.
My patience was now running out. I called a woman who operated a salon near Leakey’s kiosk. She informed me that the kiosk was locked and Leakey was not around. My fears rose sky high. I spent the next hours redialling Leakey’s number and enquiring from my neighbours in town about his whereabouts.
I touched no food neither drinks. I embarked on an unplanned journey back to town and reached there just before dusk. People I solicited help from went short of laughing at me as it was now known that I barely knew Leakey yet I had always been seen chatting with him.
At our compound, the watchman told me that Leakey left at the wee hours of the morning carrying a bag. My fear slowly gave way to despair. A smart thought of calling the service provider, as I knew Leakey’s agent number, came to my mind. After listening carefully to my plight, a lady with a lovely voice had devastating news for me. “The user of that agent number is being sought as he is accused of a serious criminal offence relating to money transfer transactions,” she said.
She further informed me that Leakey’s agent number was suspended on Friday morning. I now knew that he was playing games with me with his lies of problems with the system.
As if to diminish my hopes further, the woman informed me that the company would not take any responsibility as I failed to follow the due process.
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