He stood in the dock, his right hand cuffed to another man’s. Unlike the other suspects he had been charged with, his face showed he was resigned to fate.
Collins Omondi, 24, and two others were arrested in February last year accused of killing a man in a bar in Baba Dogo estate in Nairobi.
The charges were that the three stabbed the man after an altercation in July 2017.
When the three appeared in court on Tuesday, they expected Justice Jessie Lesiit to make a ruling on their bail application. For Omondi, however, if it was not a free bond, then it meant nothing.
“I was sure my family cannot raise the bail if I was given. But honestly, when your conscience is clear, you attempt anything and hope for a miracle,” he told the Star.
The miracle of temporary freedom, however, got bigger when the prosecution asked the judge to release Omondi as all the witnesses had failed to place him at the scene of crime.
“Following submissions by the prosecution, this court has released you from this case. This, however, does not mean that you cannot be rearrested and charged with the same crime if new evidence is found linking you to the murder,” Lesiit said.
Omondi stared blanckly at the judge for a long time. His face danced hysterically like a baby holding back a cry. He bent down, overwhelmed by emotion.
“At first, I was happy beyond words. Then for a moment, I felt anger and hatred for the year and two months wasted in custody for a crime I knew totally nothing about,” he recounted.
“I have wasted so much time, but I only blame the police man who arrested me. I know it as in vengeance as he made it very clear to me while we were in their vehicle”.
On the day of his arrest, the father of two said he left home as usual and went to the stage where he worked as a bus tout. He, however, decided to go to a bar and play pool games as he waited for peak hours.
“Police officers streamed in suddenly and began arresting people who were in the bar indiscriminately. I have never been arrested but I have been harassed several times by police officers. This particular time, I thought I’d be released on arrival at the station, but when we got in the vehicle, I knew things were different,” he narrated.
Omondi said he was a witness in a case in which Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua was arrested and ever since, some officers wanted to get him for that.
“I am very happy to be free, but don’t feel safe. The officer who arrested me promised to fix me in a case that would let me rot in prison or kill me if I ever got out,” he expressed sadly.
While in the cell at the police station, Omondi remembers hearing the officer who arrested him informing another that he had been accused of stabbing a woman and stealing her phone.
“When I heard that, I snapped. I told the officer to bring the complainant to the station to confirm that it was indeed me. This angered him very much that he undressed me and began beating me up,” he recalls.
The following morning, Omondi said he asked the officer who came to call out the register to check for him what offense had been recorded in the Occurrence Book as he did not know yet.
“He told me I was a murder suspect. I blew up. I was enraged and asked to talk to the OCS. Of course, no one allowed me. Then soon the investigations began and we were moved to Pangani.”
Omondi’s mother Jennifer Akoth said she received a call from a neighbour informing her that her son had been arrested with others.
“I was not around so I asked his sisters to go confirm what he had been arrested for. But they were not told nor were they allowed to see him until the next day when I went,” she said.
Akoth said she had no doubt her son was innocent as he was in the village when the alleged murder occurred.
“They say a parent will defend her child blindly, but I’ll tell you this, I had gone to the village with Collins in February 2017 to help his ailing grandmother. I returned but left him there,” she said.
“Collins called me in August saying he wanted to come back and vote. How is it then that he is accused of killing someone in July? I am very happy he is finally out,” she said.
Akoth said he recalls hearing about the murder but never paid much attention as the person said to have been killed was unknown to them.
“The murder occurred during elections period. An MCA was campaigning and he dished out money to some men in a bar. A fight erupted while they were sharing and that is how i hear, the deceased met his death,” she said.
“My two-year-old daughter barely recognizes me. My four-year-old son should have been in school this year but it is wasted. My mom who is taking care of my family cannot afford to have him in school,” Omondi said.
After his release, he said he will not stay within Baba Dogo area. He also hopes the family of the deceased will get justice.
“I was lucky this time. I did not rot in jail, but I was promised death as a consequence. What is there to celebrate on my release? He must already know that I am free and if not, after talking to you (media) he will. Whichever way, sooner or later, he will find out,” he said.
“Let me spend my time with my family. If God gives me a job, I will pick up my life and try to make up for the wasted time”.
At Omondi’s home, there were no plans to welcome him. His son still believes his father is in town and will bring him lots of goodies on his return. His daughter thinks every male visitor is her father and clings to him.