Dirty past of senior cop who clobbered Nairobi MCA revealed

Thursday, July 30th, 2020 00:00 |
John Mwaniki Thathi (centre) drags Mlango Kubwa MCA Patricia Mutheu during the scuffle that ensued at City Hall on Tuesday. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

The senior police officer who was captured on Tuesday brutally assaulting a Member of the Nairobi County Assembly (MCA) is not new to controversy.

John Mwaniki Thathi, an Assistant Inspector General (AIG) had been dismissed from the service in September 2013 over drunkenness and insubordination.

Mwaniki, in one of his responses to earlier allegations in 2011 had however defended himself saying: “Except for the usual normal mistake any one makes in an office I have never done anything to warrant a serious allegation on my work performance.

I don’t deny that I drink but I do this when I am not on duty. This has never affected my performance.”

On Wednesday, the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i threw Mwaniki under the bus saying he was really pained to see an officer in full uniform attacking an unarmed woman.

“We should not get there. It is painful to see a member of public being beaten by an officer in uniform. We may not have developed materially but culturally it is wrong.

I will not hide from responsibility,” the CS said. “It is not right and it is not fair to expose members of the public to such treatment.

I will support any action taken by Inspector General of Police and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.”

According to the Service Standing Orders (SSO) officers should, in effecting arrests, treat arrested persons in a humane manner as provided for by law.

The suspects should not be subject to physical force unless required to subdue violence or ensure detention. 

The Orders also prohibit officers from striking any arrested person unless in self-defence, to prevent escape or to prevent injury to another person.

CS Matiang’i, however, defended the service saying most officers were professional.

“We cannot live in a society where we just beat each other. There are laws. Some few officers are messing up the good job done by most officers,” he said.

Mwaniki was accompanied with three other junior police officers and were captured kicking, dragging and clobbering Mlango Kubwa Ward representative Patricia Mutheu after the Assembly premises became chaotic.

Chaos had erupted as a section of Nairobi MCAs attempted to serve Speaker Beatrice Elachi a notice of impeachment motion against her. 

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has directed the IPOA to carry out thorough investigations into the matter and forward the file for appropriate direction.

Mwaniki was retired from the service by the National Police Service Commission on September 11, 2013 in public interest.

According to the records, the officer joined the service on May 1, 1988 and later rose to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (S/ACP), a rank that has since been scrapped.

Despite the complaints against him, Mwaniki had on some occasions been commended for his exemplary performance, and was even awarded a Presidential Award of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW).

While serving at the General Service Unit (GSU) headquarters, his working relationship with the then commandant turned sour, prompting the boss to officially complain to the then Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere.

In a letter dated July 15, 2011, the GSU complained to the Commissioner of Police about Mwaniki citing several instances in which he failed to carry out responsibilities assigned to him by the commandants.

Among them was insubordination, drunkenness, absenteeism, failure to attend official meetings, discussing his superiors with junior officers and general poor work performance.

Several other minor incidents had been reported, and which were captured in the letter including failing to make arrangements for burial of deceased colleagues, and switching off his mobile phone so that he could not be reached.

As a result, the GSU boss recommended that the police headquarters intervenes to arrest Mwaniki’s indiscipline and his redeployment. 

Work performance

Later, on July 18, 2011, Iteere issued a show cause letter to Mwaniki, where he noted that his general work performance had deteriorated and was most of the time pushed in order to meet deadlines.

He was also accused of having no respect for the chain of command, and exhibiting complete disrespect to the commandant and was even drinking during office hours.

Mwaniki, however, denied the allegations saying he had served the Unit and the Force at large with distinction and had never been reprimanded nor warned for poor work performance.

Later, on August 25, 2011 he received a warning letter from the Commissioner of Police requiring him to refrain from engaging in further misconduct.

He responded to the warning letter on September 2, 2011 confirming that he had read and understood the contents of the warning letter.

On October 18 2012, he received a letter from the commissioner following his annual staff appraisal for 2011/2012 that read: “It has further been noted by your superior officer, that your “work output has drastically gone down due to your don’t-care-attitude and lack of commitment to work”.

Iteere added: “I wish to bring these points to your attention and advice you to re-examine yourself and become the team leader you are meant to be.”

Things did not improve and the following year, the GSU boss William Sayia wrote to the then Deputy Inspector of Police in charge of Kenya Police Grace Kaindi requesting her to redploy Mwaniki saying that the officer “needed close supervision”.

“He apparently demonstrated low degree of commitment and ability in shouldering his current responsibilities and his continued stay in similar office is creating Unit administrative hitches.

It is with this in mind that, I strongly request for the officer to be re-deployed outside the Unit in an office with less responsibility or non-command position,” the GSU boss wrote.

This was the second request, following an earlier one which had been made on October 25, 2012.

Upon receiving the letter, the then Inspector General David Kimaiyo wrote to the chairman, National Police Service Commission Johnston Kavuludi requesting for redeployment of Mwaniki.

The Kavuludi-led commission instead decided to retire him in public interest, maintaining the removal was done as per laid down procedure and that Mwaniki was given an opportunity to appeal against the decision.

Mwaniki later moved to court, which ruled he was punished twice for the same offence, having been issued a warning letter on August 25, 2011, the same grounds that were used to eventually remove him from service. 

“This constituted a violation of his right not to be punished twice for the same offence,” the court ruled.

The court also ruled that the penalty meted against Mwaniki was illegal as the Commandant of GSU had recommended for transfer and not removal. The ruling, by Lady Justice Maureen Onyango, was delivered on October 17, 2014.

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