BY BEATRICE MUTUKU
Maybe you’ve been caught on the wrong side of the City Council by-laws or haven’t yet.
If you’re one of those ones who haven’t, let me share my experience at the hands of city council askaris.
I was unsuspectingly buying myself a stick of gum, when I was nabbed by the askaris.
It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around what was happening. I was quickly informed that it was a crime to purchase goods from a hawker, and after lying through my teeth in a bid to convince them to let me go, I was berated for being ignorant and immediately marched to a city council vehicle that was parked nearby.
The last time I checked the hawker who had sold me gum was right behind me, accompanied by another askari but to my surprise, I was the only one who got into the pick up! I guess City Council is synonymous to Kitu Kidogo because everyone who gave them some cash was let go in the course of our journey around the town center, as we looked for other ‘unfortunate’ Kenyans.
After the final lap, we were taken to the City council Offices at city hall, where the magistrate briskly gave out sentences for such misdemeanors; I was shocked to be fined Sh2,000 for buying a stick of gum, while hawkers were getting away with a day’s work at the council offices, or a bribe of 500 bob.
So there it is… bribery in this case is cheaper than justice. Truth is with the new rules (cash cows) that have been put in place, there are bound to be many victims of ignorance. Needless to say, I was late for work but learned a very valuable lesson, CCN is always watching!
Below is a list of the 10 petty offences that I witnessed being charged in the Nairobi City Court as I waited for my turn.
Beware: The City’s deadliest sins
1. Buying from hawkers
2. Sitting on a flower pot in the CBD
3. Spitting on any footpath or blowing the nose aimlessly other than into a suitable cloth or tissue
4. Taking or alighting from a matatu from a non-designated area
5. Crossing the road while you are on the phone
6. Making any kind of noise on the streets
7. Playing any game, riding or driving or propelling on a foot path
9. Owner of a burning building should pay for fire fighting services whether the owner requested for attendance or not.
10. Loitering, importuning or attempting to procure a female/male for prostitution purposes.
11. Having you car with a ‘FOR SALE’ sign and haven’t paid the council is also punishable.
The City’s survival tips
1. The moment you get into the council courts and charged, please plead guilty because only then, will you be allowed to pay a fine of a maximum of Sh2000. If you deny the charges you may be arrested for two days with no fine.
2. Do not argue with the council askaris if you know that you are guilty as charged. You might just double your fine.
3. Bribes are unacceptable after/immediately the lorry has entered the city council’s compound.
4. M-PESA is not allowed to pay for a crime.
5. Someone else MUST pay your fine. You cannot pay the fine yourself after you have been charged.
(Beatrice Mutuku is an Accountant at QTE Limited)