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WAR ON GRAFT

Why law takes long to catch up with the rich

Not very often do you hear of a Kenyan politician being sentenced to jail

In Summary

• When power is associated with ability to act outside the common law, those who wield it will always tend to stop at nothing to capitalise on this unholy opportunity.

•  Proximity to political power, which, in this country comes with some sort of immunity, is partly responsible for miscarriages of justice whenever the rich are implicated.

Sirisia MP John Waluke and the mother of former Environment CS Judy Wakhungu
THIEVES: Sirisia MP John Waluke and the mother of former Environment CS Judy Wakhungu
Image: FILE

It was Malcom X who said that there are hunters and there are also those who hunt the hunters.

Well, the sentencing of Sirisia MP John Waluke and Grace Wakhungu to 67 and 69 years in prison respectively, should they fail to pay the Sh2 billion fine, has stirred the hornet’s nest. The ruling by magistrate Elizabeth Juma on the evening of June 26 was not only historic but also the road to Damascus for the Judiciary.

It has been argued, correctly, that the success of corruption cases is subject to the admissibility of the evidence presented to the court by the state — the  Office of the DPP. The Judiciary has thus endeavoured to absolve itself of most, if not all, miscarriages of justice in these cases.

Not very often do you hear of a Kenyan politician being sentenced to jail. According to a saying in the streets, arraigning a Kenyan politician in connection to graft is one thing, getting them convicted is another. ‘Eventually, the long arm of the law catches up with everyone’: This famous edict sometimes promises more that it can deliver because, in most cases, the law is known to catch up with the common man and is seen to be alien to people of means.

What ordinary Kenyans don’t understand is why it becomes such a strenuous exercise to convict the high and mighty, even where public resources are clearly mismanaged.

To answer this question, we only need to look at the selective administration of justice with regard to Covid-19 guidelines. Whereas civilians are punished, sometimes even by death – as was the case in Lessos, Nandi county, where a police officer is alleged to have killed a disabled man for not wearing a face mask – politicians violate the same guidelines with impunity. It’s from this culture of inequality before the law that the high and mighty draw their misguided sense of importance and immunity to universality of justice.

When power is associated with ability to act outside the common law, those who wield it will always tend to stop at nothing in an effort to capitalise on this unholy opportunity. In other words, proximity to political power, which, in this country comes with some sort of immunity, is partly responsible for miscarriages of justice whenever the rich are implicated.

The writer is a journalism student at Multimedia University

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