NOT A CRIME

Desperation on Christmas Eve

Desperate woman faked death to buy time to repay Sh2,700 chama loan.

In Summary
  • Desperation has a way of awakening latent ingenuity in some people. It did for this struggling woman.
  • Police in Uriri decided that in spite of causing anxiety to her family, she had not committed any crime.
A search is underway for the bodies of two male adults swept away by the raging waters of River Nzoia, amid heavy rains in Kakamega county.
A search is underway for the bodies of two male adults swept away by the raging waters of River Nzoia, amid heavy rains in Kakamega county.
Image: FILE

Rarely do police run out of a charge for a person they have arrested. Where there is no evidence of a crime committed, the law enforcers can fake one or exploit the opportunity to extort. They have done this many times over.

Faking a charge is more likely at this time of the year when every shilling counts, especially for poorly paid public servants such as police officers. There must be a way of facing the 'season's festivities'. You need some money to belong.

For this desperate woman, police in Uriri subcounty, of Migori county, decided that in spite of causing mournful anxiety to her family, friends and relatives, she had not committed any crime. She was desperate, but desperation is not yet a crime.

 
 

The police could not even consider charging the woman with causing false alarm, or threatening the peace, or behaving in a way likely to cause a breach of the peace, or attempting to commit suicide.

The law enforcers let the 'suspect' get away with desperation. Desperation is not a crime yet.

It's a sad and depressing story to tell to the happy on Christmas Day—a moment of 'parte after parte' for a few. But it is also a moment of desperation and pain for many. Such are the contradictions of life in this land of plenty amid scarcity, of want amid waste, of conspicuous consumption, and hunger.

But the story of this desperate woman shall be told nonetheless to underline the plight of the masses, who are struggling to make a living during these hard times of the Jubilee error.


While the search continued along the river for the woman's body, a village elder, the chairman of Nyumba Kumi, found the defaulter alive and ready to start work in a house in Awendo town. She had got a job and hoped to work to repay the chama loan.

Desperation has a way of awakening latent ingenuity in some people. It did for this struggling woman. They searched for the desperate woman in the swollen River Kuja for 48 hours, but they did not find her body. They pitched tents in the cold chill of Migori for two days, keeping vigil as searchers combed the riverine. They did not find her body.

The search had to continue because the body was believed to be floating or lying somewhere, entangled between rocks and twigs in the raging river—the unseasonably flooded water mass. In there also live crocodiles. 

The search party found a smoking gun. They had reason to suspect the woman may have drowned in the river. She had deliberately dropped her leso by the river to find an excuse to stop the boda boda operator. The link between the leso and the river was ominous. She had alighted to pick her leso. 

The woman had been sandwiched between the operator and the chairperson of her local table banking community. She had to escape from the forced ride. She had to find an excuse to get away.

While the operator and the other passenger waited for the woman to pick her leso, they were probably engrossed in small talk. They didn't notice the direction the fugitive had fled. But they found a clue to the passenger they could not trace. She was gone, except for her leso. They believed she might have jumped into the river.

The woman had been arrested for defaulting on a microfinance loan. She was being taken to other chama members to account for failing to repay the Sh2,700 debt.

On the third day, the search party still had reason to believe the woman had jumped into the river. They assumed she was long dead. They had her leso to prove their worst fear.

While the search continued along the river for the woman's body, a village elder, the chairman of Nyumba Kumi, found the defaulter alive and ready to start work in a house in Awendo town. She had got a job and hoped to work to repay the chama loan.


The woman risked her life for a Sh2,700 debt, the kind of money the local MCA, MP, governor, or senator spends on one breakfast at a city hotel. Or on petrol a day for daily, local leisurely rides to affirm the elected one has arrived.


While the boda boda operator and the other passenger waited, the woman had crawled into a maize farm, then waded her away into a sugar plantation. The captors raised the alarm, attracting the attention of the village.

The decoy had worked. The chama leader who had forced the debtor onto the motorcycle had failed the attention test. She was probably feeling guilty for forcing the defaulter into such desperate act for failing to repay the pittance she owed the local microfinance.

This daring woman is not alone. She represents millions of others. Her type is struggling to survive in the face of adversities. She escaped to find a job so she could repay the loan.

While away her family – her children, husband, relatives, and friends – wailed and waited, waited and wailed. The family breadwinner was gone.

The woman risked her life for a Sh2,700 debt, the kind of money the local MCA, MP, governor, or senator spends on one breakfast at a city hotel. Or on petrol a day for daily, local leisurely rides to affirm the elected one has arrived.

The National Government Affirmative Action Fund, if well spent, could change the life of this woman, whose adventure excited Migori county on Christmas Eve.      

Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo should look for this woman, whose plight could be key to her reelection or ejection.

Keep the faith that Happy Christmases lie ahead for many.