A man has spent the last two years in jail after he was arrested for “walking in a funny manner” while hawking biscuits. Charles Karani was jailed by the magistrate’s court for five years in 2015, after he was found guilty of carrying a panga, which the court heard was an indication that he was planning a robbery.
Police came across Mr Karani as he hawked biscuits and arrested him for walking in a questionable manner. Court records show the officers who booked Karani for a felony told the court they suspected he was a thug, especially after he started to walk in a funny way on seeing them.
To support their claim against the accused, the officers told High Court judge Hilary Chemitei that cases of crime in Matisi village, Trans Nzoia County, where Karani was arrested, had increased. The police therefore felt justified in arresting him. Corporal Daniel Luvonga told the court that at around 9pm on March 2, 2015, while on patrol with another officer, he saw three men who ran off. They later arrested two people and found one (Karani) with a panga inside his trousers.
In the magistrate’s court, Karani’s co-accused was released for lack of evidence. The court relied on the evidence from the arresting officers to condemn Karani to five years in prison.
Karani told the court on the day he was arrested, he had met two men in civilian clothes and greeted them. He said it was his greeting that landed him in a police cell and later in court. He testified that he did not have a panga at the time of his arrest as claimed.
Justice Chemitei termed the arrest an absurdity and said the man was arrested on hearsay and mere suspicion. “Having a panga in the ordinary course of events is not necessarily dangerous. However, when it is suspected the same is to be used to advance a crime, then the same would be taken to be dangerous,” the judge said. “For police officers to suspect them because they walked in a funny way was, to say the least, absurd.
We know the normal ‘Wanjiku’ in the street is apprehensive of police officers, more so at night.” The judge also faulted the State’s failure to call those who witnessed the arrest to confirm whether the accused had a panga. He also said claims of increased robberies were mere suspicion.
Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001250063/hawker-spends-two-years-in-jail-for-walking-in-funny-way