Friday, February 11, 2011

"The one where I get arrested."

"I should have prayed this morning."
Those were my thoughts as we were ushered into the dimly lit holding cells at the High court. I had rolled off bed after hitting the snooze button five times and thought of how I was running late hence had no time for an elaborate morning prayer. I think I better start from the beginning...

We were stuck in traffic this morning at around 0720 hrs right next to car & general in industrial area. I was reading Heck: where the bad kids go and didn't notice the traffic cop approaching the mat. No other passenger seemed to notice him either. And if they did, they must have assumed he was on a routine check of the driver's documents. The cop talked briefly to the driver then walked round, opened the door and took the kange's seat. That's when it hit me that it had been a long while since I had last seen the kange.
"Peleka Gari Industrial area," the cop ordered.
The guy seated next to him requested we alight so we can get another mat.
"Mushuke mwende wapi na nyinyi pia ni mabusu. Mumevaa mshipi?"
And so we were all driven into the cop station -a stone's throw away from Car & General- where five uniformed officers -two gents and three ladies-were waiting for us. Oddly enough, I was not ruffled. A little irritated, but unfazed even as they herded us into a shabby looking office that looked more like a changing room; with uniforms hanging from hooks on the walls. I figured worst case scenario, they'd keep us waiting and let us go with a warning or ask for a bribe. The fact that they had not taken any of our personal effects was also comforting.
"With those women out there we're going to be here a while; waona vile wameshiba? Have a seat and relax," A handsome guy with a blinged cheeky smile informed me from the bench he sat on. He had been in our mat. I later found out his name is Em. And he'd been there before. Twice.
"What happens now?" I asked, as I sat next to him.
"Those women will insist we be taken to court," Em explained.
"Makadara?" asked the guy seated on his right. He was young, probably age mates with Em and dressed for the office (no blazer or tie). He later introduced himself to me as K.
"No idea. I've never been taken to court."
The door was padlocked from the outside and was opened a total of four times.
The first time was to bring in the second -and huuuge- assorted bunch of traffic law offenders; from matatu crews to other passengers who had also not bothered with the seat belt.
The second time, one of the female officers walked in to take the names of all those who had not worn seat belts. Most of the matatu crews seemed to know her for they crowded around her, some tried to sweet talk her into going easy on them. She handled them with the exasperated patience of a mother with unruly kids.
The third time, was to summon Em. Apparently he knew the OCS, the lucky bugger. He flashed us a smile and left. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the power of having friends in high places. I was so envious of the extra spring to his step; my insides churned green as I wished we could trade places if only for that one day. K scooted over, "You were going to school?" he asked.
I get that a lot. It's the converse sneakers & jeans look. People find it hard to associate it with an office. My cross body book bag doesn't help matters. We casually talked about our work places and traded stories of hilarious tales of friends who had had minor scrapes with the law; from being drunk, disorderly & disturbing public peace, to refusing to pay bus fares. And how it was going to be their turn to laugh at us. K was a cool guy. Easy to talk to and smiled with his eyes. A few minutes to Nine, the door opened for a fourth time. We were ordered out and bundled into an ancient matatu that nearly tipped over when it took on the Nyayo round about...
*Sights and sounds*
My holding cell mates were an interesting assortment of people:
There was C: We had been arrested together. She was a pint-sized young lady. Cute with doe-like eyes that made me want to hug her and tell her it was not so bad. She was scared, but not losing it.
S: She'd also been at industrial area. She was a simple lady, philosophical when I talked to her and had a quiet strength that I liked. She was to become my holding hands partner later on.
Mama Kanjo: Not her name but she told me she worked for city council as she sat down next to me. She was matronly and chatty. Talked with her hands, constantly touching my arm as if to emphasize a point. She had been arrested in Pangani also for not wearing a seat belt. Next to mama Kanjo was a slender, gorgeous lady in a trouser suit. The only time she spoke was to tell us -after mama Kanjo asked her- that she had been arrested because some money went missing at her workplace. What amazed me was that she didn't look worried at all...
A lady in a short denim skirt stood by the door constantly talking on phone in a manner that would have grated on our nerves had it carried over the din. I christened her Petunia. She was loud and a touch neurotic. On the bench across from me, was a serious looking woman I called Umbridge. She looked peeved and stiff the entire time we were there. Not even once did she relax or smile. Next to her was a lady with braids who had been arrested together with mama Kanjo; happy lady with a loud hearty laugh and finally, at the corner was a pregnant lady who had been arrested in Kilimani for abusing a cop.

I sent a text to R. "I'm in a holding cell @ high court. Didn't wear a cell mates."

R immediately called back. "You're such an ass for letting me know now. You ok?"

I grinned. He'd said ass in Kyuk. And no, he hadn't been referring to the donkey. "I'm good."

"They'll fine you 1k max. You have that on you?"


"Cool. I'm on my way." He clicked off.

Mama Kanjo was hilarious and kept us entertained. We didn't even notice time go by till a cop opened the door some minutes to 11a.m and told us to step out. The guys were already out in the hallway lined up. We lined up infront of them and paired up. After being briefed on how to behave when court was in session, we were ordered to hold hands then trekked up the stairs towards traffic court n.o 7. People stopped to stare and I didn't blame them. We were an odd mix of a hundred or so people, in pairs and holding hands. Once inside the court room, we waited quietly (with cell phones swtiched off) for an hour before the magistrate finally arrived...

*Court room lessons*

With no distractions, the waiting drove me nuts. It gave me too much time to brood. Made me restless as I thought of all the things I could be doing till a voice in my head pointed out that I'd be seated at my office desk drinking mud like coffee as I mumbled at the computer screen. Once in session, I got insight into the downside of matatu business. And it's not for the faint-hearted. I witnessed the extent at which a mat owner can get burned. Case in point; there was a Nissan mat owner who had five of his mats impounded. Reason? they were operating with defective parts (how a cop can pull over a vehicle & be able to tell it has defective parts puzzled me). The fine? 7k to the driver for driving a defective vehicle and 7k to the owner for allowing a defective car to operate, PER vehicle. If it's a bus, the driver and the owner are fined 15 k each per vehicle. Citi hoppa had a total of 12 buses impounded for having defective parts. And oh, for using the wrong route, there was a Nissan driver fined a whooping 20k. The figures made me wince. Personal car drivers were not spared either and their offenses varied; from driving with a mutilated driving license, jumping traffic lights to obstruction.

Important fact to note: The prosecutor is nothing like the one on Be the judge. The guy mumbled like he wasn't sure of what he was reading. I couldn't understand half of the stuff he was saying (the magistrate & court clerk seemed to have no trouble though). Worse, he kept picking his nose every time he spoke. And constantly dozed off as the court clerk droned on!

By 2 pm, the session was over. I caught a peek of R waving at me and grinning like crazy from the open doorway. He enjoyed this way more than was legal. Now we had to wait for the cashiers to come in and wait some more for our names to be called up to pay the fine. I kept thinking I needed an iced coffee badly. That and a cold shower. It would have been a long wait too had R not talked to the court clerk. I don't know what he told her (he knows her; long story), 'coz she called my name and asked for the fine before disappearing into an office outside. A few minutes later, she was back with the receipt. And just like that, I was finally free to go. I said by goodbyes to K, S and C and quickly left the court room.

"Outlaw," R teased with a smile.

"And sooo not Sons of Anarchy."

"Tell me about it."

And I did.


NB: The above is a 10th February entry retrieved from the cutting room floor after much internal deliberation


  1. wow you actually got to know all those people maybe next time i'll get arrested to socialize. Who belts up in mats anyway- think it's pointless, once blogged about those Michuki rules...

    good stuff btw

  2. Thanks Gitts. yep, most of them were cool and the stories they tell you are fascinating(i couldn't cram them into the post). Plus, it was the only way to pass time without going nuts.
    I'll check it out...

  3. i like your experience, it seems you met a lot of cool people. by the way did you learn your lesson?

    do you belt up nowadays

  4. Internal deliberation? Oh lighten up, It's just a traffic offence.

  5. Hahahaha I hope you earmarked the Jav because am sure the cops always are on the look out for it. And now am trying to figure out how you say ass in kikuyu... :-D

  6. All is well that ends well. I happen to know that Kiuk word and imagining it's phonetics is funny enough :)

  7. @ WWF, ehhh, I'm on better look out for the cops & always know where my seat belt is...does that count?

    @ Sk8rboi: The deliberation had nothing to do with the traffic offense...Trust me

    @ Mackel9: Ohh yes, I don't enter it anymore. And ass in Kyuk sounds spectacularly crazy. Guaranteed to leave you speechless even when you're not Kyuk :-)

    @ Cold turkey: Yep, now i can joke about it...every time i hear that word, it just gives me the chuckles...

  8. Pole. If ever I'm arrested I shall come here for notes.

    Ass in Kikuyu is an every day non-offensive word in Kao I think? Unless I've got my linguistics all wrong.

    Unrelated: I need to get in touch with you. Are you on Twitter?

  9. Wow, but it has always been my believe that safety belts should be a personal choice and the government needs to respect personal choice. As for me, I shouldb e investigated by kacc for the uncounted times ive had to bribe cops at my place, i get arrested a lot.

  10. @ Shiko, Hey gal. I'm not on Twitter, but you can in-box me. As for the word, well, how I wish R wasn't Kyuk. They have a way of making it roll off the tongue spectacularly, leaving you speechless or in stitches no?

    @ Evans: You sound like an Outlaw :-)

  11. ass in kikuyu.... Hahahahahaha...
    I am tryin 2 imagine how u heard it and my paps z lukin at me lyk am crazy.
    Reminds me of the tym i was almost locked up at central for a whole weekend. The horror.

  12. Now you can write a rap lyric about being in jail and all that. Give 50 Cent something to think about :)

  13. Hmm, interesting story. Pole for your ordeal, I am sure it gets funnier as the days pass...

  14. this post made me think of John Kiriamiti's my life in crime and how I love convict stories :)

    LMAO @pitzevans Yeah yeah ask the guy whose suicide attempt backfired :)

  15. This is like the most hilarious entry you have ever done and trust me i loved it, im so serious it was an experience and a half but this is good stuff kudo's girl, mob love

  16. Pole girl! I'm sure you could catch a disease from belting up in a mat! Those belts look like a hospital admission waiting to happen!

    Such a wasted day but at least you were in good company!

  17. I'm still stuck on the serial offender giving you a minute by minute play of what was going to happen! You'd think dude would learn to 'funga mshipi' by now! O wait, he knew the OCS? *eye roll* What an experience! At least you got to make friends and hold hands, which I'm sure you would not do on an average day :D

  18. You had me in stitches with this.

  19. this post makes me glad am a biker . nice read though!

  20. I've been up that corridor. I was lucky to have a copy of GQ with me. I read half of it.

  21. lovely story I am sorry that you went through this but you seem to have taken it in your stride. This post proves that humour can be encountered in any human situation.