Transporting the Police


Police cars are a fixture in most countries in the world,  ever-present, always cruising the streets and highways, looking for trouble. With the name “POLICE” painted in large bold letters, these cars announce the instant and constantly mobile presence of the law on sight.  Not always in Kenya, however.

What I saw today is unlikely to burnish the reputation of the police as credible first responders.  There was a matatu, and in that matatu a suspect, being transported to the police station. The plain clothes officer did not attempt to commandeer the vehicle; no, it filled up as usual, with the officer presumably paying the freight for himself and his law-breaking cargo. Every ten shillings counts in this business.

On the way, fellow passengers were treated to a narrative of the wrongs committed by the suspect, a man who from the dried blood on his face and clothes, had already received some ferocious retribution, and who from his silent demeanor, either knew he had met his match, or was just relieved to be in custody. One cannot help but surmise that had the matatu strike materialized, and not fizzled out, the law in this case would never have taken its rightful course. When it was badly needed today, there was no police car.


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