Police in Loitokitok near the Tanzania border have been caught red-handed taking bribes. On Sunday night a senior officer received a Sh100,000 bribe to release a bus which had four foreigners without identification documents among its passengers.
The bus called Desert Runner was traveling from Taita-Taveta to Nairobi was flagged down at Loitokitok at 10.40 am. After a search, four persons, suspected to be Somalis, did not have identification documents.
The police then ordered the passengers to alight and seek other means of transport. The bus driver, conductor and the four men were detained. The arrest of the crew and the unidentified men was not booked in the police Occurrence Book as is the normal police practice.
Instead their names were scribbled in a “cell register” that was opened earlier in June. The bus crew then contacted their managers in Nairobi. The bus owner Stephen Macharia, accompanied by a Star reporter left for Loitokitok at 6 pm, and arrived at the police station at 9.30 pm on Sunday.
The officers on duty referred the incognito journalist and the bus manager to a senior officer (name withheld) who was drinking at the Josmart Guest House with another senior officer.
The senior officer told them that he could not release the bus unless they handed over at least Sh100,000 in cash. The conversation was recorded by the Star.
The reporter gave Sh60,000 to one officer (name withheld) while the bus manager handed over an extra Sh35,000 after making a withdrawal at a nearby ATM. It was agreed that the balance of Sh5,000 be sent to the officer via Mpesa.
The officer then allowed the two to return to the police station but instructed that the detained driver and his conductor should also cough some cash.
They had already deposited Sh11,200 and Sh24,000 respectively with the officers at the station but the senior officer instructed that it should be handed over to him at the bar.
One police officer was however reluctant to open the cell and release the suspects saying it was already night and they could be dangerous criminals. He softened after he was given Sh1,000.
The senior officer remained adamant that he could not release the bus until he received the Sh5,000 through Mpesa. The bus manager and the reporter then left Loitokitok for Nairobi where they arrived around 4 am and sent the cash to the officer via Mpesa.
After receiving the transfer, the officer reminded the bus manager on the phone that he was being very lenient since the normal amount for such a case was at least Sh150,000 with no negotiations whatsoever.
He threatened the bus manager with potential fines totalling Sh3.8 million. “The lowest you can pay for the bus is Sh800,000 and Sh1 million for each of your three workers,” he warned.
He boasted of how he worked at two notorious weighbridges and how much he used to make daily. “Please report the case to the Internal Affairs Unit,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Grace Kaindi said yesterday in a text message when contacted for comment.
On Thursday afternoon Loitokitok police chief Herbert Khaemba was shocked when one of his officers narrated how he colluded to demand the Sh 100 000 when he met with bus owner Stephen Macharia and the Star reporter at the station.
The officer asked for forgiveness from the matatu owner but his accomplice had gone into hiding and was not present during the closed door meeting. The officer eventually agreed to refund the money with additional penalty for the loss incurred by the bus owner.
On Wednesday the officer had rearrested the bus at Loitokitok and it is still at the police station without any charges being preferred. The officer told Khaemba in the closed door meeting that he got a “text message” from the court to rearrest the matatu.
On Thursday the mobile court at Loitokitok (under Kajiado law court) ordered that the foreigners who were on the bus on Sunday be deported to their country of origin.
The officer told the bus owner to write to the court to demand for the release of the bus but the owner management said this was a tactic to intimidate him.
“If the OCS arrested the bus without a court order how come he demands that I apply to the court to seek a court order to release my bus,” asked Macharia. Macharia said the officer was trying to punish him for reporting the matter at police headquarters.
The bus is still being held at Loitokitok police station after Macharia demanded that the officer produced the alleged court order that he used to arrest the bus.
– The Star