FIVE LESSONS FROM AN INNOCENT TRAFFIC OFFENDER…

Writing from Milimani law courts, court no.9.

Am I freaked out?

Yes. A bit.

I have had at least 14 hours between the time I was arrested and now, so I have gone through what I presume was the worst part of the ordeal.

Now remains facing the judge, pleading guilty, being fined and walking out to drive carefully for the rest of my life, so help me God!

Yesterday evening I was in a mad rush. I was at Mugo Kabiru road and Ngong road junction, headed out to Yaya Center when all this drama started unfolding. Ngong road towards Adams was moving at snail-pace and just across towards Nairobi CBD was as clear as dawn! As I was headed out to Yaya, I figured that I could just make a small right turn and then a left and be in Yaya in two minutes.

My mind was busy figuring out whether that would be a wrong turn (the warning bells were ringing like mad) and my eyes were busy looking across the road searching for a “no-turn” sign but my hands could not wait and were slowly moving the steering wheel and turning my car to the right.

The rest of my evening went by in a haze.

I saw the police beckon the cars ahead of mine to move.Oh how glad I was to see we were being told to drive faster!!! And how short-lived that joy was…because I saw the policeman beckon me to the side of the road with his smug face and I knew right there that I had broken some law. As my car came to a pitiful halt, I was thinking of the many sob stories I could come up with to avoid being charged. Topping the list was to act pregnant and sickly and really cry.

And then the sinking realization that I am a Christian and part of the deal is that we do not lie. Stress!

“Madam umefanya wrong turn!”

“Sorry officer, sikujua….ni ukweli nimefanya wrong turn lakini nilifikiria watu huenda hivi…hawaendangi hivi? Wah, pole”

“Leta license, fuata Askari upelekwe station”

Huh, his partner was already walking towards his motorcycle and instructing me to follow in my car. These guys were not joking!

Quick call to hubby!

Hubby said they were supposed to write me a paper and fine me, not take me to the station. So I got out of my car and ran to the motorcycle cop to ask to be written that paper….

“Madam hatuna karatasi, tunapeleka watu station”

My heart sunk. I have never been in a police station, never been arrested. Never saw a cop who was having a bad day as these two!

So I followed, all the way to Kilimani police station I was making calls to hubby, to lawyer, to my salonist who knows a guy in NTSA…and hoping the policeman was just bluffing.

He wasn’t .

At Kilimani police station, I entered and saw the big book being written bad stuff about me, little old me! I was handed back my license and told to pay a bond of Ksh 5,000. By then, lawyer and NTSA guy had sent me the list of traffic offenses and respective fines, so I knew I needed Ksh 3,000.

But wait, I didn’t even have the Ksh 3,000 in my wallet.

“I need to go to the ATM to get the money,” I said.

The police at the station looked at me as though I had two noses and just said
“Haiwezekani”

Drama started. Waterworks galore! All the tears I had refused to cry at the time of arrest came in floods. I told the police there is no way they can hold me for not paying bond yet I was willing to pay. I asked the motorcycle police why he had not told me I would be required to have money while we were on the way so that I go get some cash…he is not fond of waterworks, that policeman. He walked away saying it is his partner who had arrested me, not him, his work was just to bring me to the station.

I followed him.

I told him he is a bad person…hahaha as if he cared!
Anyway, his senior saw the drama and asked me to calm down. I sat on a stone next to my car , my car which they had said could not leave that compound unless I paid bond, which meant I had to walk to the bank or pick a taxi…and pay the taxi guy with which money?

I was not leaving my car in a police station, I better cry than leave!

Now, his senior came to me and started asking me to get money from mpesa. I was too frustered to bother to tell him that if I had it I would pay up. By then, all the people I had called on my way to police post were calling me frantically and phone was at 5% charge. I also had no portable charger.

Perfect. Just perfect.

Senior suggested to me that I ask my friends to send me cash so I pay bond. I told him this was my offense and I was willing to pay my bond so I do not need to trouble anyone, I just want to pay my dues! I  realized that phone in my hands was not helping my case and started shooting videos so it would just go off… my levels of drama-love amaze me too!

Just before it went off, lawyer told me I am a Kenyan for goodness sake, so why not get a free bond?

Senior came back to ask whether I had got any money, and asked if I do not have mobile-banking. I said not. And started waterworks again! I even showed him my phone which was now off and told him he would keep me there forever because I had no cash and no means to receive any, yet I have a nursing baby at home so I can’t sleep there.

He said I could charge my phone in their office. Huh, this man was just something else.

Anyway, I obliged. When my phone was charging I walked out towards the police houses in the compound, it was getting dark by then, and when he asked me where I was headed I grumpily said,
“Kuomba maji”

Kind man, he bought me water.

As I charged my phone I started chatting a few friends regarding my predicament, but declined all financial help, partly because I wanted to stay longer and charge the phone, and partly because I wondered what happens if a person cannot raise the bond.

By that time I had cheered up enough to ask Mr. Senior for free bond. Senior looked at me as if I had two other noses, and told me not even him can grant a free bond, I have to get it from the D.T.O. No problem, I was ready to face the senior-senior D.T.O.

Hubby was already on his way, I had wanted him to come to the station like a knight in shining armor to rescue his damsel in distress. No way was I going to agree to mpesa.

Anyway, D.T.O arrived first, and I was told to go plead my case.

I asked him for the free bond and he also looked at me as if I had grown two extra noses, now totaling six.

“What is a free bond? He asked.

I explained to him that I had no money and really wanted to go home to my small baby.

“Who told you there is free bond?”

“I don’t have! ”

“Who sent you to me!”

“Why did they not give you the free bond themselves?”

So on and so forth and finally I was written the free bond, just as hubby was coming in. We went home. No, first we sat somewhere and analyzed my options,as hubby had a field day joking about how I would be put in some cell. He even demonstrated to me how jailed people are held at the back of their trousers by police.

My options: I could send an advocate to represent me or could go to court personally.

Going personally would mean a lot of time wastage, and would mean hubby missing work as he couldn’t let me go alone. Sending an advocate would involve a fee, the minimum fee being Ksh. 10,000. The kikuyu in me decided to go to court, plus my lawyer friend was practicing tough love and telling me I need not pay anyone to do simple things for me, not even her!

Ey, lawyer!

Going alone also raised the issue of an accompanying person to pay the fine as supposedly, I would be fined then held somewhere until my fine is paid.

By now I have already ascertained that I can pay my own fine, cashiers come to the courtroom and you pay your fine there and then and walk out to freedom. I am just regretting when I think of how many other things this fine would have bought me instead.

I came to court at 8:30am, I don’t know why I had to, as its heading to 11:00am and the pleas are yet to start. Hubby has come, to make jokes about how a courtroom is as serious as a heaven-hell situation and how I should bow when getting in or leaving….now I am really praying for a merciful and lenient judge to take the seat.

I wonder if it will be the same one who was presiding the traffic cases that were mentioned in the 9:00am session.

That one was too low I could hardly hear anything he said. I thought in real life lawyers do their thing the way we watch in Boston Legal, The Good Wife, Suits, etc. not at all. Here I hardly hear a thing, even the accused have to lean in to try grasp what is being said.

Here comes my first lesson: If you ever go to court, sit in front!

We are around 20 in the room (I found one person I know, nice!) , most people are dozing. Imagine we can smell the toilets from here, brrrrrrrr!

Those who paid cash bails are being refunded now before the hearing.

My second lesson: Pay bail as often as you can.

Free bond is stressful because after my hearing I still have to go to room 182 to get my license…never mind how tired and hungry I am.

My friend here was charged with driving at over 50kph at Langata road.

Another did not display their insurance sticker on the windscreen, and was not let go even though she had the sticker in her bag.

Third lesson: Beware, traffic offenses are so diverse, get a copy of traffic act with all updated laws…perhaps you have to do this weekly.

************************************

IT’S OVER!!!

I am finishing this write-up outside the courtroom. So this is what happened:

A lot of handcuffed people were brought in from custody.

Judge came in, we rose, we sat. A clerk was calling out our names and reading our offenses and asking if we admit or deny. Most of us were agreeing, personally I could barely speak up so was merely nodding my “YES I AM GUILTY AS CHARGED”.

I have been fined a whooping Ksh. 10,000 for making a wrong turn and causing obstruction. As if those two are not the same thing! I would have told the judge as much but the questions asked by dear clerk are not open ended (judge didn’t even speak a word to us) and neither do I feel like coming back for another hearing to prove how the two offenses are the same.

Forth lesson: Do not ask someone to accompany you for a hearing, it is time-wasteful for both of you, they are not needed to pay any fines for you and they won’t give you moral support because when the hearings are about to start only the offenders remain in the courtroom.

I will now walk out of this law court, sad about a 10k that would have gone into better use, happy to have spent my morning in the premises, just knowing life! (Thanks to my lawyer) Also happy that our law-enforcement system does not ask for bribes, and happier still that even when not offered a bribing opportunity I do not make up sob stories to be let go…good citizenship of both my kingdoms!

(Heavenly kingdom and earthly Kenyan citizenship)

If you see someone hesitating at every junction, wave…that will be me figuring out whether the turn I am about to make is right 🙂

Fifth lesson: Right turns are no longer allowed on most of Ngong road.

 

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