Senior police officers in new cash bail ‘con’ game

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Police officers arresting a suspect. Photo/PD/FILE

Station commanders have devised safer ways of extorting cash from members of the public by sanctioning arbitrary arrests and then releasing suspects on cash bail.

The cash is obtained in the form of a cash bail, making the initial process legitimate.

Suspects or their families are then forced to sign and surrender the original receipt for the arrsted persons to be released unconditionally.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has received several complaints and is currently investigating a case where a suspect was arrested at around 9pm and detained at Pangani Police Station.

His relative went to the station the following day and was told to pay a cash bail of Sh10,000 by the station commander.

A junior officer was tasked with the process, but instead refused to issue the woman with a receipt.

Most of the complaints are where suspects, after being released, are coerced to sign that they had been refunded their money.

In another case reported at Buru Buru Police Station, a suspect was arrested for contravening the curfew orders and released the following day on a cash bail of Sh5,000.

“I was told to sign the original receipt I had earlier been issued with to confirm that I had received my cash back,” he wrote in his statement to one of the oversight bodies.

Above the law

Concerns have been raised on the rising cases of arbitrary arrests and prolonged detentions even in cases where suspects are not supposed to be locked in.

Immediately the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Kenya, Chief Justice David Maraga directed that no prisoners or remandees would be presented to court, and that the courts would only handle serious cases.

However, the Judiciary directed that any crime involving deviance of national orders regarding control of Covid-19 would be considered serious crime and courts would convene to hear such cases.

Maraga also said the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) had resolved that petty and traffic offenders should never be held by police for more than 24 hours and also directed police to avoid arbitrary arrests and unnecessary detention of suspects.

He directed that petty offenders should be released on bond or cash bail and that the station commanders were under strict instructions to implement these directives.

“For the sake of transparency, all police stations will have centralised records showing the number arrested and the terms of their release.

The ODPP (Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) will monitor the exercise periodically,” the CJ said.

In a scheme akin to money laundering, commanders have embraced several ways to avoid detection by authorities and add legitimacy to the source.

The station commanders have also reported challenges of having millions of shillings at the police station due to the fact that the courts had reduced operations and also because some suspects, after being released on cash bail, never return.

“In other cases, the suspects are the ones who request that they informally forfeit the cash bail,” a senior officer who sought anonymity said.

Covid-19 guidelines

In another case, an investigation has been launched following reports that a suspect accused of a minor offence was detained for over 24 hours and the officers deliberately refused to take him to court.

Station commanders had been directed that with regard to new arrests, all cases except serious ones would be dealt with at the police stations in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Inspector General of Police.

Suspects are expected to be granted affordable and reasonable bond terms or free police bonds, especially those accused of minor offences.

Arrests of suspects are to be made when investigations are complete unless circumstances dictate that a suspect be arrested to facilitate investigations.

The commanders had also been directed to strictly adhere to the directives on the Bail and Bond Charter which requires, among others, that petty traffic offenders will not be put in custody or forced to pay cash bail. 

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