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Dark day that shone bright light on police

By Jessica Anjalo | July 27th 2016
Jessica Anjalo. She is full of praise for the traffic police after they kept her father’s belongings safe when he was involved in a tragic accident. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

There are a lot of bad police officers in Kenya today, but there are a whole lot of good ones too.

Growing up, I was always intimidated by the mere sight of the boys in blue. I had been socialised into believing that they were agents of torture driven by their greed for ‘kitu kidogo’ (bribes). I would avoid eye contact and hasten my footsteps for fear of being arbitrarily rounded up and bundled into their vehicle for no other reason than daring to be on the same street that they were patrolling.

That was until December 24, 2001. This was the day that my father was to travel back to Nairobi from a trip upcountry.

I remember it was a bright day, very hot in fact, and schools were closed as everyone anticipated Christmas. Everyone but my siblings and I.

There seemed to be an air of anxiety and an unshakeable feeling of impending doom. We could not quite put our finger on it but we would later find out why.

It was 9pm and as I settled to watch the news on television, my elder sister told me she had been trying to reach our father on his phone but there was no response. My mother, who was still at work at that moment, was also trying to reach him but in vain.

A few moments later, the news anchor started reading the headlines. It was then that we saw my father’s car on the screen. It had been reduced to a mangled wreck.

Right then and there, my whole world seemed to stop.

The events that took place afterwards were all a blur to me but I later got to know the details about what really happened that day.

The last person my father spoke to was my mother. He called her at around 3pm and informed her that he was at Burnt Forest, on his way to Nairobi.

As he was approaching Nakuru town, at Ngata Farm, a vehicle from the opposite side of the road lost control, veered off its course and rammed into him. My father died on the spot.

I do not know who the first people were on the scene, but I know that the Traffic Police were there.

Through my father’s phone, they contacted one of his friends.

These officers that we like to malign kept my father’s belongings safe. His documents, wallet, cash, mobile phone and even the food he was bringing home to us from our grandmother.

My father’s friends helped ensure his body was transported to Nairobi and the wreckage of his car towed to a police station. All his belongings were delivered to us.

These events might seem inconsequential or trite but to me they were instrumental in changing my perception about the Kenya Police.

There might be a few rotten apples among them but the larger majority is humane and has taken seriously their mandate to serve and protect the Kenyan public.

I would not want to imagine what the situation would have been like if they were the greedy brutes that I always imagined them to be. We would have spent days trying to trace my father’s personal documents and belongings while struggling to understand what happened to him.

Although it happened many years ago, I am still thankful and I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the officers who handled my late father’s incident. As well as those who gave us an impromptu escort when we were stuck in a traffic jam on Thika Road on the day of his funeral service.

May God bless the officers who are dedicated to their calling and continue to serve us.

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