Caught Part III – Jail

09 Oct
Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

They had just finished cleaning it. The Kibera Law Courts jail is best described as a square room with a long, continuous, narrow (and of course heavily-grilled) window running along the top (next to the ceiling). Within the larger square of the jail is a smaller square in one corner. This smaller square comprises what we shall politely call the ablutions. The trouble with the ablutions is that the wall of the ablutions does not extend all the way up to the ceiling of the containing main room/square. For this reason, the smell stink stench that inexorably rises up from the jailhouse facilities permeates determinedly through the entire room. Doubly so if the door is open. Deciding whether to endure higher concentrations of the malodourous fumes seeping from that toilet in order to go and close the toilet door and thereby lessen the fumes is a taxing exercise in circular logic. But apart from this, the jail was actually pretty clean.

I asked the cops supervising the jail if one could perhaps offset their fine and the cash bail.

“Ati off-nini? Offset? Hapana huwezi offset fine yako na bail yako Boss, we toa kimbelembele yako hapa. Kaa huko na ungojee mtu wako.”

I set about finding a way to pay the fine. I called a friend of mine who gave me a rider’s number and also sent that rider KES 7,000 to deposit at the bank for my fine (thank you so much!). This rider seemed quite well-versed in proceedings.

“Pole sikusikia call yako, nilikuwa na-ride bike.”

“Sawa tu, ulipata SMS yangu iko na hizo account details?”

“Nimeiget. Nikuulize…?


“Uko mashimoni?”

“Ee, mazeh…”

[Merry laughter] “Wacha nta-come saa hii.”

He and I haggled a bit about the cost of what he was doing for me, and I ended up paying him KES 720. I should probably have paid him KES 500 (though we did start off at 1K). But he knew exactly what needed to be done, reliable chap. What the extra 20 bob was for, we shall come back to later.

Moving swiftly on

In about an hour, the trusty rider on his noble steed boda-boda had arrived, bank slip in hand, and obtained a receipt which he was able to use to have me released.

Once your fine has found its circuitous and serpentine way into the labyrinth that is the Judiciary’s coffers, there remains the small matter of recovering your bail. As you know, the purpose of paying bail is to make sure you appear in court. If you do appear in court, you are entitled to a refund of said bail. The process beggars belief. You see, when you post bail you pay it either to the cops on the road, or you pay it at a cop station. The police station to which those cops are attached, or the station at which you pay it, is important here. Because on the day you appear in court, dear reader, an officer from that particular cop station must come with the bail that you paid during the weekend and return the very bail you posted. So when I asked for my bail I was asked:

“Station gani?” 


“Haya ngojea hapo.”

Luckily mine came before my trusty rider arrived because a lady officer from Kabete Police Station was already at the Law Courts with the money. My bail was selected from a sheaf of notes that appeared miraculously from quite literally under her belt. One hapless offender was slightly less fortunate. He had posted his bail at Kiserian Police Station and was appearing before the Magistrate at the Kibera Law Courts. This poor fellow availed himself in court, his case was heard, judgement was passed, he tumana’d to KCB Account No ___________, his fine was paid, the deposit slip was brought, a receipt was obtained, it was presented at the cells, and he was released…

…then he had to wait for the ka-Landrover to come all the way from Kiserian Police Station, negotiating Bomas traffic and all, to bring his bail.


The small matter of my rider's motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The small matter of my rider’s motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Friends, I don’t know which reforms Chief Justice Mutunga, former Registrar Shollei and Inspector-General Kimaiyo have been carrying out, but as a recent though temporary guest of the State I believe I am well-qualified to say that I am yet to see them. Is it not the Kenyan Judiciary and Police they have been reforming? Juu mi’ sioni! What an inefficient system! You miss work, the guy who you call to run that errand for you is also not working… in this day and age where we have computers, MPesa, and man has been to the moon, if someone has to wait for someone else to pay their own fines for them at the bank then come and get them out of jail, we must be reforming backwards.

I further fail to understand why money has to be physically brought from Kiserian to Kibera in a police vehicle for offenders to get their bail refunds. The powers that be in the Kenya Police must similarly be using a very loose definition of the term “reform”. At some point I began to think that I had ended up in hot soup in order to see these things for myself.

Before I conclude, dear reader, you may recall that I promised to return to the small matter of why I paid the rider KES 720 instead of KES 700. Do you know what the 20 bob was for? It was so that the rider could pay the askari at the gate of the Kibera Law Courts so that his motorbike was not stolen therefrom while he was getting me out. Yes. We live in a country where your motorbike can actually be stolen from the premises of the Law Courts themselves. Ati a guy just comes in wearing those fluorescent jackets emblazoned “Waititu for Governor”, hotwires the thing and disappears.

In the language of the court, I rest my case.


17 responses to “Caught Part III – Jail

  1. lirungu

    October 9, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Well, Mr Chrenyan, they say experience is the best teacher. Though I am not sure that was a lesson you would have wanted to personally learn, even if it was for free. I am laughing with (at) you over the hilarious descriptions…

    Seriously though, pole sana. I found an interesting article on how the system’s inefficiencies breed corruption. Happy reading.

    • Chrenyan

      October 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Hehe! I have read Carol Musyoka’s worthy piece. It is quite interesting how exactly her relative’s experience mirrors mine. Nonsensical laws like the 50 kph rule truly add to the burden. And I won’t even start on how most of the financial criminals (not petty traffic offenders) never even have to appear in court in this country. Ah well.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. micah (@mukolx)

    October 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Pole sana.

    • Chrenyan

      October 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks. Actually, the experience was worth it, though I doubt you could have got me to say so at the time…!

  3. waruisapix

    October 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    you never disappointed! kept me hooked as expected! thanks and have a nice day (Y)

    • Chrenyan

      October 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Always welcome, glad you enjoyed it.

  4. David Wanambwa

    October 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    You think its 2014 kumbe its 1974.

    • Chrenyan

      October 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Exactly! Very sad.

  5. Norman

    October 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Reads like an article written in 1420. I have a feeling paying fines then was less tedious (& royal steeds were actually used to collect them. hehehe

    • Chrenyan

      October 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Hehe! Thanks for reading – and commenting.

  6. kmuchoki

    October 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Ha ha ha. i love how you told it.

    I must say though that this is one of the instances when the system actually “worked.” Horror stories have been told. I agree though that with a digital government, we probably need to digitize the Judiciary and Police Force.

    • Chrenyan

      December 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks a lot K, habari ya masiku? I trust you’re well. Thanks for the compliment!

      You’re right, the system did work. But it’s how it works that is jarring. We have countries where you can vote online. I think it’s in Kuwait (or some other Middle-Eastern country) where I saw you could pay fines through an ATM or something. Here…

  7. Eric

    October 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Eish…interesting read. Would have been boring if it was an efficient system you went through. Let’s hope CJ Mutunga has an idea what is going on and will ensure the next write-up is a boring 7 lines describing an efficient system.

    • Chrenyan

      December 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Hey Eric,

      All in favour of boring say “Aye!” “Aye!” I hope we see this in our lifetimes.

  8. Justus Njoroge

    October 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I have been following your ordeal and having gone through the same process, i concluded there are no reforms in the Judiciary. At least not to the ‘common mwananchi’ Maybe those who can get lawyers to argue for their cases, they get speedier hearing dates hence they can call that reform. I was stopped also at Kabete and one of the brake lights was not working. I refused to part with the bribe. Went to court, given my charges, i tried to jitetea to the judge – he gave me a fine of a cool 15k Fine. I could not believe it myself. I had to also get someone to pay for me at the KCB Account and then bring the deposit slip and even after that they had to call the bank again to counter check that i had actually deposited the cash (another delay of 45 minutes at the court). Eventually i was released and its true you cannot net off. The problem with the justice system is that it does not make it easier for one to comply. I was willing to comply and pay the 15k – but the system punished me with wasting a whole day – till 3pm in the afternoon from 8am in the morning and 15k poorer. Were it not for my principles against corruption – i would have given the cop 500 bob and all of that could not require to waste a whole day in court and 15k less from my pockets? This is why corruption with traffic cops will never end, they know the price you will pay for refusing their bribe, that is why they don’t hesitate to take you to court. Either way you will pay – but more so dearly if you were to comply and refuse to bribe.

    • Chrenyan

      December 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Hey bro,

      “…I concluded there are no reforms in the Judiciary.” I laughed at that point but in truth that is the summary of the matter.

      I also think that fines should be commensurate with offences. It is not right to pay 15K for a faulty brake-light! Increased penalties merely increase bribes. What are needed are effective penalties, such as revocation of driver’s licences, etc etc.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: