The law is an ass, they say. That, there are millions of innocent people behind bars around the world simply because the judges refused to use common sense, is not in dispute.
In the same vein, hundreds of Kenyans are languishing in jail due to a ridiculous justice system.
Many were trapped in criminal cases they knew absolutely zilch about other than being in possession of stolen property, particularly smartphones.
Recently, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) warned Kenyans against buying electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops, from the black market.
This is because it’s possible to buy a second-hand phone that had been stolen from a shop, or worse, a victim of robbery with violence, resulting in a murder trial.
“The public is hereby warned never to buy any electronic gadget from an individual who has no fixed physical address. Always insist on the issuance of a receipt clearly itemising the particulars of the gadget. It is risky to buy any device from suspicious outlets. Most are those who buy stolen items from gangsters who have violently robbed innocent Kenyans,” the DCI warned.
“Don’t buy a device of a murdered Kenyan. When police forensically investigate and find you in possession of such a device, by the time it is established that you were not involved in the crime, you may have suffered immensely.”
Due to their ‘peculiar’ nature, Kenyans often embrace quick deals in a bid to save a few coins. Unbeknown to many, once caught with stolen property, you suffer consequences of the actual criminal, which may lead to a death sentence.
On March 5, police in Kisii arrested a high school boy and a tout, Justus Nyamete Manyura, in connection with the murder of businesswoman Caroline Wanjiku.
The two were in possession of cell phones that detectives had been tracing as they had previously been paired to the trader’s SIM cards through online communication and transactions.
“Detectives are probing to establish how the two suspects got possession of the handsets, hence they remain in our custody assisting with further investigations,” the DCI said in a tweet.
Wanjiku was abducted by unknown people in Ngara before her body was found in Kajiado County. It is yet to be established whether the tout and the student will be charged alongside five others arrested earlier.
In another case, Duncan Kimeu Muthoka and Ian Kariuki are facing robbery with violence charges at the Makadara Law Courts after they were found with a mobile phone allegedly stolen from a man who was killed in his house in Kayole.
Peter Mihunyo was found dead on December 26, 2019, with his phone missing.
The widow, Emily Wangechi, reported to the police that she had travelled to Nakuru on December 19, 2019, and did not communicate with her husband until December 25, when she returned to Nairobi to check on him.
Muthoka, who was found with Mihunyo’s phone, told police that his co-accused, Kariuki, introduced him to the seller, who is still at large. Unfortunately, Kariuki didn’t have any details of the hawker, such as contacts or physical address.
Both have now been charged with robbing Mihunyo using violence that caused his death.
The case is slightly different for masons Edward Kamau Muchiri and Stephen Muange Mutemi, who bought a mobile phone from an unidentified woman involved in the theft of a car.
Fortunately for them, the victim was neither harmed nor killed. Still, they were charged with motor vehicle theft.
The two were charged with stealing the vehicle – Isuzu DMax worth Sh3 million – from Evelyn Mbithe Kisalu on January 3 last year jointly with others still at large.
It all began when the driver, Gabriel Mutie, got a call from ‘a client’ who wanted to move household goods. He set up a meeting with the client, who offered to buy him a meal in Ruai Township. The next day, he woke up in a hotel room, naked.
The woman, who took off with the vehicle, later sold her phone to Muchiri at Sh2,500, which he considered ‘a throwaway price’. On October 11, 2019, he sold it to Mutemi. Now, they are paying the price for what they thought was a good deal.
Kenyatta National Hospital cleaner
In another case, a Kenyatta National Hospital cleaner who picked a mobile phone from a dustbin was briefly held by the DCI in October last year after the owner, Eliud Wabwile, was reported missing. Later, his body was found at the mortuary.
Luckily for Enock Omeda, Wabwile had been a victim of a hit-and-run accident along Ngong Road before he was rushed to KNH.
A DCI cybercrime expert dispelled myths that cheap phones, such as mulika mwizi, cannot be traced after a robbery, saying any gadget that can receive a signal from a service provider can be traced.
As long as the phone has a subscriber identification module (SIM) card slot and an international mobile equipment identification (IMEI) number and can power on, it can be traced.
Flashing stolen phones, also known as hard or master resetting, does not change anything that would prevent its recovery as it amounts to simply deleting the data belonging to the previous user, he noted.
“Flashing is like replacing the operating system with another. Everything else on the phone remains intact. Some will generate an IMEI number using software to dupe the buyer but the original IMEI number doesn’t change,” the expert said.
However, he said there was “no way one can be charged with an offence they have not committed only because they were in possession of a stolen phone”, if there is no factual evidence.
But the DCI director of the investigations bureau (IB), John Kariuki, said one may be arraigned “if the real perpetrators are not found”.
While the expert said there must be evidence linking the suspect to the crime beyond possession of phone belonging to the victim, Mr Kariuki insisted those found with the gadgets bear the criminal culpability in circumstances where “they are unable to show the people who committed the crimes”.
Officers in Central and Kamukunji police stations have been charging phone technicians found with phones stolen in the CBD. They often face alternative charges of handling stolen property.
Mr Kariuki urges Kenyans to be contented with the phones they can afford and only buy from recognised dealers who provide receipts.
“Anyone can buy a phone anywhere. The danger is buying it at a throwaway price of say Sh500 or Sh1,000 yet it was stolen from a person who was violently robbed, even killed,” he said.
“Because you cannot produce the person you bought it from, you face the original charge (robbery with violence or murder) simply because you wanted an expensive phone.”
George Njoroge, an IT expert at the East African Data Handlers, said charging unsuspecting buyers with such offences because the perpetrators could not be traced amounted to “malicious prosecutions”.
Mr Njoroge said this is because there has never been a precedent-setting case where the suspects were acquitted for failure to link them to the crime, therefore there is no case law to guide judicial officers.
Lack of knowledge by judicial officers and prosecutors to analyse digital evidence has aided the same.
“The judicial system lacks just one successful prosecution where a suspect was acquitted for lack of evidence with a determination that being found with the phone stolen in violent robbery was not evidence that they were involved,” said Mr Njoroge.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202103170862.html
Author : Nation
Publish date : 2021-03-17 13:50:57