From the stories I have told you about it, it is a well established fact that my beloved village has many not-too-bright chaps with all-round bad ideas, poor impulse control and even poorer execution of their bad ideas. 

There are Ninjas out here who, by their deeds, make a very good case for the Government to legally compel them to cease and desist from all forms of thinking.

The concentration of regular Einsteins per square foot on the hilly roads of Thanda Maria is stratospherically high. 

In time, I will tell you stories that will make you want to take it upon yourself to make arrangements to come here and interview the parties concerned so as to establish the veracity of those stories.

Once in a while though, one of us outdoes himself and his story deserves to be told. I will tell you the story of one Ninja today. Though I strongly disagree with his conduct and deeds, I am in awe of his considerable legal acumen without having the benefit of any formal legal education.

The Ninja has jurisprudence nailed to a tee. And the beauty of it is, he isn’t even aware of this material fact.

One sunny Sunday afternoon a while back, before I made my trip back to the city, I wandered and found myself inside our village watering hole. Since I too suffer from poor impulse  control, I quickly found myself irrigating my notoriously arid throat with those frothy fluids of the intoxicating variety brewed with love at Ruaraka. 

I got engaged in small talk with a chap named Thuo who was seated next to me. Ok, small talk doesn’t quite capture the essence of our exchange; it felt more like criminal extortion. He was not very liquid , so he was trying to get a drink out of me and I wasn’t being sufficiently charitable. 

He started complaining that my relaxed sipping of beer was aggravating his already very dry throat and his tonsils were now beginning to itch. 

There is a popular phrase that is used around here when the throat is desperately in need of moisture, which he put to good use. ”Ngaaí ní irenda kùgagatio.”

Loosely translated, it means, “the tonsils neeed to be tickled by something sour.’’ If you know a keen linguist who is familiar with the nuances and subtleties of both Gíkùyù and Inglis, he will tell you that that phrase has no English equivalent that quite expresses the same sentiments.

He then complained that my purchasing power did not properly reflect that of an inhabitant of the fabled city of Nairobi. 

After conducting  triage, I decided that his throat condition was clearly not only an emergency situation , it was also now interfering with the hydration of mine. So I handed him an ‘ibati’, or an iron sheet. 

Out here, that means a hundred bob.

In no time, he had procured and was now sipping Santana; a warm, and very lethal beverage. A beverage of suspect production standards and constantly fluctuating alcohol concentration by volume. The only consistent quality Santana had was it’s dependable inconsistency.

It also had a very vague and mysterious supply chain shrouded in secrecy. There was no known depot, a bar owner simply made a call to some sketchy guy who would tell him to stand at a specific location. He would then send a rider with the product to them as per their order. Payment was strictly cash upon delivery, naturally.

It turned out Thuo had quite the story. I knew him to have been recently incarcerated for some domestic infraction. Stealing, to be specific. An act he didn’t dispute. He has always been , for the lack of a more dramatic phrase, cartoonishly kleptomaniac. 

One Saturday afternoon, his Father received a generous 20,000 bob from his Chama. The chama was held in their home. As he prepared to see off his visitors, he went into his bedroom and placed the cash in the pocket of a jacket hanged on the wall. As he left he locked the door, specifically because Thuo was within the compound at the time.

You see, Thuo was a persona-non-grata in the main house for being a known serial kleptomaniac. He was only allowed rare and supervised accces into the main house when it became unavoidably necessary. 

When his Father left, Thuo improvised with a long pipe and a coat hanger and through the bedroom window, he managed to retrieve the Jacket that had 20 large.  He then emptied the pockets and quickly and stealthily left to go attend to his   permanently dry throat.

Then next thing he remembered was being woken up in his cubicle the next day with a flurry of kicks by law enforcement officers who had come to arrest him. In his room, they found 10, 1 thousand shillings notes and 17 rolls of Bhang in a cigarette packet. 

He was arraigned in court the next day and later remanded at the Murang’a GK prison as a guest of the state. He was not new to the prison industry, he was a veteran of sorts for all manner offences. He was so well known in the local prison circles that he was usually promptly promoted to a trustee ( kínara), everytime he paid them a visit.

That is prison lingo for prefect. And there are many attendant perks that come with the office of a Kínara, like not being subject to regular clobbering and starvation.

I feel obliged to mention that up to that point in time, he had a perfect professional record of like 10-0 against the office of public prosecutions. They were yet to secure a conviction against him for any of his many transgressions. 

The score at that point was, not that anyone was keeping count; Thuo 10- The State 0.

He was a natural at establishing reasonable doubt.

He told me that three charges were preferred against him by the prosecution that particular time; 

1. Being Drunk and disordely

2. Stealing a sum of 20,000 kshs from persons known and related to him.

3. Being in possession of bhang. ( A lot of it; he is a known serial stoner).

He told me that all three charges were true. 

So, he chose to represent himself as he always did.

After a while, when the time came for him to cross examine the arresting officers, he had a field day. 

For charge No. 1, he asked the officers from whence they arrested him. They said, from his cubicle. He then further sought to know from the court and the officers themselves, how he could be held to have been drunk and disorderly at the time of his arrrest. He argued that the arresting officers, by their own admission, found him passed out in his own bed in his parents’ compound and therefore he couldn’t possibly have been drunk and disorderly.

For charge No. 2, He sought to know from the officers what evidence they had that he had stolen the alleged 20,000 kshs. The officers replied that they found on him at the time of arrest a sum of 10000 kshs, which they naturally assumed to be the remainder of the stolen sum. They further said that it was well established that he was perennially broke and the 10 large couldn’t possibly be his.

At this point, he pulled a master stroke straight out of a Hollywood legal thriller. He  proceeded to ask  different persons in the court to produce an additional 10, one thousand shilling notes. 

They obliged. 

The notes were then mixed with the 10 found on him at the time of arrest as per his instructions.

He told me that at this point even the magistrate had become interested and had sat up straight.

He then instructed said persons to differentiate their notes from the notes found on him. They could not do so with any meaningful level of certainty. No one could tell which thousand belonged to who.

By extension of the same argument, he argued that it could not be possible to ascertain with any reasonable level of certainty that the 10,000 shs found on him belonged to his accuser. He also added that no law barred him from being in possession of money.

He argued that he was an industrious man and he had  the right to own legal tender for his own desired use.

For charge No. 3, he sought to know from the arresting officers how they gained access to his cubicle at the time of arrest. They replied that they let themselves in since the door was ajar. After letting themselves in, they alleged that they found a cigarette packet with 17 rolls of cannabis on his bed cover. 

He then demanded to know from them and the court whether it was within the realm possibilities for any other persons, including the arresting officers themselves, to gain access to his cubicle without his knowledge the same way they did and place a pack full of cannabis on his bed. 

The officers agreed that it was well within the realm of possibilities.

At this point the defense rested.

Later, magistrate in his findings, found him not guilty. He said that the prosecution failed to meet onus probandi. That little matter of  the burden of proof; the cornerstone of criminal law.

After the charges were dropped, he raised his arm in an attempt to address the court. When given audience; by the magistrate, he demanded a full refund of his 10,000 shillings since it was found on him and the prosecution had failed to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that it was stolen. 

He received the full amount.

As he was asking for change at the court canteen, the prosecutor, who happened to be there on personal business, asked for kitu kidogo. He argued that they all knew that he did the crime.

Thuo admitted to his crime there in front of that canteen to an officer of the court, but told me that he told him, in a manner of speaking, to go hug cactii.

When he went home excessively drunk that night, his father asked him, “wewe, hiyo ni pesa yangu unakunywa hivyo?”. To which he replied, “mimi ninakunywa pesa yangu yenye nilipewa na koti, wewe angalia vizuri kwenye uliweka yako.”

After giving me this story which was common knowledge in the village, I bought him another drink for his understanding of the intricacies of criminal law. I bought him one on general principle.

But I made my strong dislike of his actions very clear.

A while later after giving me this story, his luck finally ran out. The crows finally came home to roost. 

He failed to raise reasonable doubt after catching another criminal charge. His prize; a six month stretch of growing rice in near fatal conditions. Venue; the notoriously dreaded Gathigiriri G.K. Prison in the searing hot, mosquito infested, rice plains of Mwea.

As a lawyer friend of mine loves to say; If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

Walevi wa kwenu wanajua tu kuchunia ng’ombe majani ama wako na LLD’s kama wa kwetu ?

14 Replies to “Of cunning, self taught village Lawyers and reasonable doubt.”

  1. Next episode should be a narrative on fadushi.very interesting Jack you are captivating my short attention.soldier on!

      1. The more the better,Give us chance to read good stories this period of quarantine.endelea mzee tunangoja

  2. Hahaha, you write well. Your sense of humour is on another level. I have encountered this Thuo in my village as well. My “Thuo” fits your description very well. Keep writing bro.

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