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School drop-out who rose to be Kenya’s top crime buster

Former Police Commissioner, Philemon Abong’o.

Former Police Commissioner, Philemon Abong’o.

For four years he was Kenya’s top sleuth feared and loved by many in equal measure. During his heyday as the man in-charge of crime busters, Dr Francis Sang had seen a lot, heard so much and unravelled countless dark secrets. Through his deft hand, have passed hundreds of high-voltage criminal files.

He has perused ‘Top Secret’ documents and answered confidential phone calls from the high and mighty. But all those privileges and trappings of power as Director of Criminal Intelligence (CID) did not come on a silver platter. Sang had to surmount a litany of hardships through much of his young and adult life. It called for guts, endless passion and unbroken focus to achieve what he only dreamt of years back.

Born and brought up in abject poverty to parents who worked as casual labourors on a white settler’s farm in Rift Valley in1940s, Sang was a typical village boy like many of his age-mates. A second born in a family of eight, Sang sat Certificate of Primary Education in 1968 but despite passing well, the painful part had just started-raising school fees.

His poor parents could not afford and a number of sponsors he had counted on also failed to help him. In 1969, Sang received an admission letter to Kabianga Secondary School in Kericho. With the little resources his parents could afford, he reported to school unperturbed by the possibility of being sent back home to collect school fees.

And it did not take long. Sang was sent back home to collect the balance. Without any way of raising the fee, Sang resigned to his fate. He joined his parents at the white farmers farm in Murunyu area in Nakuru where he worked for two months. He hoped the mzungu would be kind and sponsor his education, but he did not.

“When that did not materialise, I went to Rongai where I was hired as a farm clerk. I worked there for probably two years,” says Sang, adding, “It’s then that an opportunity to join Kiganjo Police College arose in 1963.” After six-months of intense training, Sang graduated and was deployed to the Anti-Stock Theft Unit before being transferred to Kisii.

Immediately after Kiganjo, he registered with the British Tutorial College as a distant learner. He had his eyes set on Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) which he did in 1986. “After results, I enrolled at Washington International University for a sociology course. I was a distant learner,”Sang recalls.

He says it was hectic and tiring serving as a police officer during the day and studying at night, “It was an energy-sapping experience but a worthy sacrifice. I had a burning ambition to be called Dr Sang, one day,” he recalls. In 1984, Sang was promoted to Officer Commanding Station (OCS)Naivasha.

After serving there for some years, he was transferred to Kiganjo as a trainer. Sang had served in several police positions before he was promoted as a Deputy Police Inspector in 1997. In 2003 he was appointed Director of Criminal Investigation (CID), where he served for four years before he was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the changeover of government at the end of 2002.

It was as CID boss that Sang enrolled for masters in criminal justice and thereafter, a PhD in sociology, both at Washington International University. Sang says his rise from a school dropout to a PhD holder is a success story with dedication, determination, discipline and passion to surmount obstacles. “There is nothing a human being cannot achieve if he is determined,” he says.

Sang who had served in police for 30 years has written three books: International Police Cooperation, published in 2001, Gun Violence and its impact on human security in Nairobi, published in 2009. His third book, launched last month is called A Noble but Onerous Duty. “The decision to write this book was inspired by the fact that in my long career, there have been many police officers whose vast knowledge and experience in different facets of service have simply gone down the drain after they retired and passed on,” he says.

Former Commissioner of police Philemon Abong’o who was present during the interview said Sang who served under him was submissive, disciplined and highly-skilled detective. “He was the best and dedicated to his work and his staff,” Abong’o said.

-The People

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