Anatomy of a theft-Part II: How the plot unravelled

Anatomy of a theft-Part II: How the plot unraveled
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The call jolted me as I stooped to examine a patient. I stopped midway through the procedure, and neither the nurse nor the patient knew what hit me. They looked on as I made a dash for the door and disappeared without a word.

Read Part 1 here.

The drive from the hospital to the police station was the shortest in terms of time, but the longest in my life in terms of psychological torture. I was in a daze as I zoomed into the station and parked, left for the reception, panting and palpitating.

I found the old man and the two accomplices, wearing forlorn faces. They looked defeated. It was a genuine look.

Kijana, umeibiwa? You should know this place is not for the naive,” Said a stern looking policeman.  I would have punched him, but I had no energy.

I have always avoided police stations in my life, because of three reasons. One, these men can be callous and sarcastic. Two, there’s no sense of time. A simple exercise can last 24 hours. Third, any slip or argument can land you in a stinky, putrid cell.

The lawyer’s secretary explained what had happened. She had been sent to the land’s registrar to book for a special land board to facilitate the transfer of the title deed. One look and the registrar disowned his signature. Ostensibly, the signature and code didn’t match. It was his signature, but the code belonged to a registrar who had since died.

I turned to one of the brokers, who used to be my barber.

“I thought she was your sister?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know her. I wanted to sweeten the deal.”

We were led to a room where the three men were given papers to record statements. Perhaps because of their bewilderment, or call it trust, they vomited a blow by blow sequence of what had happened.

“These are the thieves. We don’t need their master. You will stay behind bars until you produce the money.”

I found myself praying that the woman would not be arrested, for it would kill my plot. And that was the last time I involved the police or the courts in the case. I resolved to pursue the case using brute tactics.

The criminal investigations officer, who had hitherto been amicable, suddenly turned stiff and cruel. Quickly, he ordered them to remove one shoe, their belts, and jackets and handcuffed them together. He herded them towards the cell like condemned sheep. This time, my heart was pounding as I contemplated what was to happen to me.

He turned to me, his face loosening and his countenance returning.

“Young man, what do you do?”

“I’m a doctor, I responded.” I knew this statement would unlock his heart.

“You mean a medical doctor, herbalist or a veterinary doctor? He asked, sounding unconvinced.”

“Sir, I’m a medical doctor,” I offered.

This might have opened some doors, as the man lifted the handset and issued stern instructions to two officers on the other end.

“Make sure you trace this lady. She has robbed our daktari. I expect a report in 48 hours.”

I wanted things to work in a flash, yet he was talking of 48 hours. Given a chance, I would have raised an alarm around the country, and the con-woman would have been arrested in a moment. Reality was beginning to dawn on me; the wheels of law grind slowly, and nobody knows their final destination.

My chance to record a statement was excruciating. I was supposed to write a composition, stating how the deal began, what I did, where I went, who I met, how I did, and other minutiae that made me weary and wary.

I called my friends, who advised me to let the law take its course. However, the next two days proved me wrong.

It was a chilly Wednesday morning when I received a call from one of the two officers on my case.

“We need forty thousand to travel to Nairobi and retrieve the identity of this woman. With her thumbprints, we will know who she is by end of today.”

I didn’t get a receipt or acknowledgment of receipt, as I handed the cash to this detective. I waited with bated breath as the two made the journey to Nairobi. I kept calling them and they assured me they were on the trail of this dangerous criminal.

After around 3 p.m., their phones went unanswered. I didn’t suspect anything, as by now, my senses were numbed, and denial was giving way to acceptance that I may have been robbed.

The drama went a notch higher the next morning, when the two officers called again, demanding for fifty thousand shillings to ‘process the records’ of the con-woman. They remained vague on whether they had unraveled her identity. I acquiesced and sent the money.

On Thursday, I was accompanied by four friends to the station to see the incarcerated men. By then, their families had reached out to me, pledging to pay the money if only I withdrew the case. I bid my time.

The three men staggered into the investigations room and were ordered to sit on the floor like slaves would do before their masters.

They repeated the statements they had made and swore they too had been conned. The old man who had masterminded the whole deal was at pains to explain that he had sold huge pieces of land, but this was the first time he had been robbed.

“Mzee, you are a thief. You will vomit the money, or spend the rest of your life in jail,” said the duty police officer.

Friday morning saw the final straw. The two officers called demanding a further fifty thousand shillings to compare fingerprints of the alleged woman with those of known criminals.

This time, I lost patience and snapped.

“Why should you need money to compare fingerprints?” I inquired.

“These are the normal charges, daktari,” offered one of the officers.

“You mean I need more than a hundred thousand shillings to just identify the criminal, yet this should be the work of the government?”

There was silence on the other end.

“I’m not producing one more shilling,” I said with a finality, my heart hardening and my will strengthening.

“Then expect investigations to be completed in one year,” Came the veiled threat from the other end.

And with that, my faith in the justice system suffered an austere blow.

Early Monday morning, I was in court as charges were read against the three men. The charge sheet contained six charges. Conspiracy to commit fraud, use of false documents, engaging in a false deal etc. It didn’t mention that a whopping 1.2 million shillings had vanished.

With a resounding finality, my belief that I would get justice from our system suffered a crushing blow. The case was adjourned, to be mentioned in 9 months! The three men were released with a cash bail of one hundred thousand shillings each. I saw them grin as their families produced receipts of the cash. They looked prepared for the bail.

That evening, I hurdled with my boys as we hatched a plot to recover the money by all means necessary.

I found myself praying that the woman would not be arrested, for it would kill my plot. And that was the last time I involved the police or the courts in the case. I resolved to pursue the case using brute tactics.

And I was right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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