Mob Justice or Flawed Justice?

Mob Justice or Flawed Justice?

Loud forceful bang by the gate and I am wondering what in the world is that!? Why I stepped out I do not know but I see a man with a knife securing the gate closed and dashes into a house shut it closed too. Wait…what was that? A man with a knife…gate and door banged closed, has a knife, …I did not see his face and he went into a house where I know there happen to be a woman and a child. A huge crowd of angry men who look like boda boda riders in their gears follow after. They have stones and are shouting in Swahili though, ‘thief we need his blood‘. This can’t be good. I panicked for the mother and child. If indeed is a thief he has a knife what if they are being held hostage how do I help?

Yuko wapi? Lazima yuko hapa. Sukuma hiyo geti lazima iwe wazi. Mwizi! ‘ [Where is? He must be here I am sure. Push the gate it has to be open. Thief!’] With force, they unlock and push it open. Opening the immediate outhouse doors just in case he is there. ‘Madam, umeona mtu na kisu? kisu kubwa ameingia hapa? Ni mwizi tunamtaka‘. [Madam, have you seen someone with a knife? A big knife and has entered here? He is a thief we want him].

Yes, a man has come in here. Has a knife yes but what is happening? ‘He has stolen a motorbike and we must teach him a lesson’. One of the neighbors apparently saw the man’s face and recognized him so she tried to confuse the mob. So I tell them listen, if he indeed has stolen you can leave some of you here but first go get the police do not touch the man without the police here. One man says ‘No! No police they never do anything we know how to deal with such things’. My other neighbor says young man please put that stone down. The third one says he might have jumped the wall but I say fine you know he is here you have also found evidence of his cap and sleepers he was wearing. Get the cops. Another man responds they have the cops outside the gate. I tell him to get them.

I quickly realize they are not there to reason with anyone as another man comes declaring that he feels like spilling blood. Another one decides we are protecting a thief and hiding him in our homes so they must search each. In my head I was thinking hold up bruh first you are not police, two you do not have a search warrant three if he is a thief, I know I can never protect one but also the alleged has rights, needs to be heard and definitely his or her blood should never be spilled least he can get is a second chance even if it is in the cells.

One of the ladies who saw exactly who it was crossed over dragged me into a different neighbor’s home. I do not exactly know him but there’s a child and a woman in there the angry men have begun breaking the windows trying to force an impossible door open but decide to flood the home with dirty water they forced off the women who were doing laundry outside. The neighbor then explains the identity of the man. Turned out the man is a brother to the man of the house he went into. His brother is away in the village. Which means the man can’t harm the woman and child. Good. But the men outside refuse to reason.

When we walked out again, one of the angry young men who insisted no cops turns to me and asks ‘Why are you defending him? He must be your husband. Never defend a thief today he steals from me tomorrow from you. Are you sure you are not related? We should start the search with you’. I laugh it off and quickly disappear into our house to find my phone. I got my people (family) and told them listen, we need to call his brother and somehow find the cops right now. Let them be the ones to sort this.

I remembered I somehow have his number so does my sibling we dial him up. Quickly explained the situation and ask him to get whatever police contacts innocent or not if the police are there it will be easier to find the truth and he will live. He agreed and said the only man who would get into his house with much confidence like so is his brother and the probable reason his brother had a knife is because he is a sculptor. I know the brother I was speaking to has an artistic streak so its possible that it runs in the family. Since the identity was now clear my sibling confirmed that it is true his work involves a few knives and his results are beautiful pieces. So we get to work getting a cop on site.

Five minutes or so later the cops are on their way. First duo plain clothes came on a motorbike. The area chief was also called and he calls the uniformed ones on patrol who come in about 10 minutes in the car. So I stepped out and whispered to the woman who had called me aside first. Told her the cops are on their way. As soon as some of those men saw the local chief they began scattering away. If they were truly right why scatter away? In most cases, knowing Motorbikers they do not. But of coz once the crime is committed and their adrenaline has gone down, the conscious might strike and they might disappear from the scene.

Meanwhile, the woman whose house was being vandalized began shouting at the men from her window. How dare they accuse her brother-in-law of such things she is not opening the door until they explain what it is. She also tried to call for help.

As soon as signs of the cops showed up nearly all the men disappeared. Another neighbor who realized two of the men understood the language both she and the victim’s sister in law spoke, she called them aside and told them do you know whose house that is? Are you not familiar with this kid? These guys have a commendable character we cannot believe this. The moment they realized whose house was in question, they quickly left the compound to try and reason with those they could outside. Finally, with the cops on-site, the man could step out explained his side and without a doubt, we all believed him including the cops. Another group of young men who helped locate the men in blue came to vouch for him because they were together before the incident. Man’s life saved. He was innocent. Statement collected. Damages assessed.

There was no theft involved. A disagreement by the workplace next to a bar. Some wannabe tough rider decides to pack his employer’s motorcycle in front of someone else’s business obstructing entry. The young man tells him to remove it. He is told get lost so he helps himself by pushing it to the side. The other man is suddenly angry and threatens him saying he will teach him a lesson. Calls in his fellow riders from a different area claiming the man has stolen his motorbike. Turns out he could not call the ones from our area because-no they know the guy, they might dig and protect him then turn the tables against the trouble maker for lying. The men, now angry that their own is in trouble jump onto their motorbikes in groups of threes and four carrying huge stones descend on the brother like a swarm of bees to teach him a lesson-their form of justice. Thank God for survival instincts and adrenaline the young man was able to escape and had the sense not to open the door even when they spotted him inside. They really were not going to leave. They swore they must spill blood and ensure he does not see the new year.

He was and still is innocent. I mean the motorbike was right where it was. But his brother’s home vandalized. What’s worse his life nearly ended. Yes, the cops took the bike away for the owner to come and collect and sort the damages. But, I am just wondering how many times do such things happen? Is it that easy to spill blood? How foolish is mob mentality? Why is it easy to throw stones without first hearing the other side of the story? How will you sleep at night knowing you raised that stone? The women trying to reason were pushed aside and some of us being told we might just as well be married to the person if we can defend. Must we be related by blood, marriage or tongue/dialect for me to help you? And no I could never protect a thief but do people deserve a hearing and if guilty yes corrective punitive measures? A second chance? Is this not how we end up with a good number of people behind bars who are completely innocent? Since someone decided to make up a story then they are forced to make up evidence and we all know the rest of the story only for several years down the line if one is lucky they find out the person was completely innocent or innocent but their life was cut short somewhere.

Must you win every argument? And if you think you can’t fight and win you call people, lie to them and have them do your dirty job just to ‘teach a lesson’. And for those who just inherit other people’s wars at the snap of their fingers without flipping the coin first what is wrong with you? with all of us? Just Why? And if you step in to show solidarity why won’t you also bring in a sober voice along just in case or at the very least listen to one?