When the Matatu we were in did not take a right turn to State House on Kenyatta Avenue but instead took a left turn to Milimani Law Courts, it finally dawned on me that the day ahead was going to be a long one.
It was one of those Monday mornings that I wake up very focused. The alarm goes off and I instantly hit snooze, and not just once. That’s Focus. Everything else was working as I had planned except time. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for long. An old Matatu showed up. I mean really old.
This must be a gift from heaven. I thought. It must be, Even though I moved seats three times trying to find one that wasn’t broken or shaky, I was convinced that the matatu was heaven sent. Before I could settle down at the back, the conductor was on my face demanding his dues. I did not want him to ruin my otherwise blessed morning so I refrained from engaging him in any chitchat.
Suddenly, someone shouted “Funga mshipi”! But before anyone could move there was a policeman at the door laughing. He mumbled a few things and then took a seat. I went on with my attempt to snooze before we got to town not making much of the events.
To my surprise, the Matatu turned into Industrial Area Police station and the cop ordered us out and into two rooms; the ladies went into one while we were bundled into the other. The door behind us was immediately locked. The Matatu left. Never mind that they did not give us back our money neither were they arrested for not having seat belts fitted or even the poor condition it was in. They just drove out of the police station as though they had been sent to do exactly that; take us to the police station and charge us for the ride.
Everyone then suddenly started making calls, shouting through the window, complaining about everything and anything, but not me. I was going to have a good day. An hour passed and I thought it wise to send a text to my colleagues saying I would be a “little late”. A few guys managed to make “the right calls” and they were allowed to leave. The rest of the mwananchi who did not have someone to call remained.
Almost two hours later, we were bundled out of our rooms into another Matatu. This time I buckled up just in case it was a test. The policemen didn’t. The irony! That’s when one cop shouted we were going to Milimani Courts. (Not State House as I had anticipated). This was the first time we were given clear instructions of what was going on. It was time to send another text. “ I might not be coming to the office today”.
At this point, as you would guess, I had already forgotten about the good day business. We were moved from one cell to another for no reason. The toilets were filthy and the rooms were not ventilated, there were no emergency exits, grills existed everywhere – you felt like a criminal just being there! It took almost three hours for the Magistrate to come and another two hours to make her “judgments” after which we were shuffled to another room to pay our fines via Mpesa.
By the time we got the receipts it was almost four o’clock! A whole day was wasted and for what? A KES500 fine? Why wasn’t I charged on the spot? I had a bag on my back the whole day and no one asked me what I was carrying. I went into a Police station and a court full of people! Don’t these places need security checks? Then as I was leaving the court, I had to go sign in my laptop and then sign it out. How absurd. No one took the time to find out if I had stolen it.
After going through the process I can’t tell you how many people swore that the next time they are arrested for a misdemeanor, they would rather bribe their way out than go to court. Isn’t the Judiciary shooting itself on the foot if after going through “the correction procedure” citizens don’t swear not to commit an offence again but instead swear to bribe their way out of one next time?
What would you do? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Belt up…If you can find it…