Driver in highway brawl with cop speaks out

January 19, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – The truck driver who was caught on camera engaging a traffic policeman in a fist fight on Thika Road last week, says he acted after provocation because the officer had attempted to forcefully drive his vehicle.

Mr Richard Kiplasoi Towett says he was transporting fruits from Hola and complied when the officer flagged him down, and even allowed him to board the vehicle which he was directed to drive to Kasarani police station for various offences.

"I was in the company of my turn boy and the owner of the fruits when this traffic officer stopped me. I humbly complied and stopped on the roadside, the officer then inspected the vehicle and asked me to produce a driving licence which I didn\’t have," he said.

"The officer then boarded the vehicle and asked me to drive to the Kasarani police station.  I drove but I failed to branch to the road heading to the station because I thought it was still ahead… that is when the officer asked why I had driven past the station and I told him I didn\’t know where the station was," Mr Towett told Capital News soon after the mention of his case at the Makadara Law Courts.

He said he got infuriated when the officer forcefully tried to pull the hand brake and engage gears while the vehicle was still moving.

"The lorry did not stop even after he pulled the hand brake because of the weight it was carrying, so I asked him why he was pulling the handbrake yet the vehicle is moving. I warned him but he said let us all die.  That is when the lady who owned the fruits I was carrying managed to jump out and the officer started beating me up with his handcuffs," the driver said.

"He started holding the steering and that is when I acted in self defence by trying to get the officer out of the truck because I realised the lorry was losing control.  He had already hit me on the head with the handcuffs and I was trying to save the situation because the lorry could easily overturn," Mr Towett, a father of two claimed.

"The police officer assaulted me… I didn\’t refuse to be arrested, he was already in my car so I wonder why he decided just to attack me instead of showing me where the police station was," he said and added that "this is my first incident I have never fought a police officer, I have never written any statement or my finger prints taken for any case."

The incident was caught on camera as the two engaged in a fight on the roadside, a few meters from the Safari Park hotel.

After the fight, the truck driver went back to his lorry and drove away leaving the policeman on the road but he was swiftly arrested a few meters away by other police officers who escorted him to the Kasarani police station where he spent the night.

On Friday last week, Mr Towett was arraigned at the Makadara Law Courts where he was charged for assaulting a police officer, driving without a driving licence and an alternative charge of failing to carry the document.

He was also charged for driving a lorry that has no reflective materials, failing to obey directions and failure to wear a seat belt.

When the case came up in court, the prosecution said investigations on the case were over and they substituted his charge sheet to include driving a vehicle with a broken windscreen.

He denied all the charges and was freed on a cash bail of Sh35,000 and the case set for hearing on March 22.

The incident has elicited public outcry, with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) condemning it and urging members of the public to always cooperate with the police.

Mr Towett however, says he is a law abiding citizen who has never been arrested for any offence, during his 19-year driving career.

He said he retired from Telkom Kenya in 2009 and decided to venture into the matatu business.

"I worked for Telkom as a senior clerical officer in charge of stores materials, but I retired and bought my own matatu which was plying on route 125 to Rongai and I was driving it myself. I am not new on the road because I have experience of 19 years and I have never been involved in any road accident," he said.

Mr Towett said when he realised the matatu business was not performing well, he sought a job as a truck driver.

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