One of the donkeys used during the demonstrations.
On the 11th of December 2014, Boniface Mwangi the leader of Ukweli party and a renown human right activist brought some donkeys in Nairobi to protest the hiking of Members of Parliament salaries. Many Kenyans can just recall seeing the donkeys in the streets but don’t know the intrigues which were going on behind the scenes. For the first time, we get a glimpse of what was going on from a recount of the day by Mwangi’s friend and human rights defender Soyinka Lempaa..
Lempaa details the days happenings from day break. “ Mwangi was to demonstrate with the donkeys on Parliament Road and the office of the president at Harambee Avenue. He hired a lorry to transport the donkeys. I think they were six donkeys in number.” He recounts.
“The donkeys had red and white massages painted on their bodies to condemn corruption and greed for money after MP’s had arm twisted Sara Serem, the then the chairperson Salaries and Remuneration Commission to have their allowances adjusted upwards.
The City Bylaws prohibit bringing of animals in the city. When Mwangi saw the Police and the Council Askaris, he ran away leaving behind the lorry and the donkeys in the streets.
The driver of the lorry would not run away and leave the lorry, an FH, on Kenyatta Avenue.
He was arrested and taken to the City Court at City Hall. I was called by Mwangi to go and represent the driver. I quickly read the bylaws and informed Mwangi that the fine of bringing livestock to the City Center is Kshs 500.
Human rights activist Boniface Mwangi
Mwangi discussed with the owner of the lorry and instructed me to advise the driver to plead guilty whereupon I give strong mitigating factors for the driver and apply for the release of the lorry to the driver upon paying the fine of Kshs 500.
When the file was called out the driver pleaded guilty and I as instructed pleaded for clemency, the driver being a first offender. I also applied for the release of the lorry. The prosecutor strenuously opposed the release of the lorry saying it had nothing to do with the case. He told the magistrate that the lorry was not even an exhibit in the case.
The magistrate ordered the driver to pay a fine of Kshs 500 and the lorry be released to the driver upon paying the fine. We extracted the order. It was taken to Dagoretti City Council parking lot at.4.30 pm
Officers at the said parking said that they could not release the lorry unless the driver pays Kshs 15,000. Mwangi called me and told me to accompany the driver the following morning for the release of the lorry. That is where the real drama started!
I woke up the following morning and proceeded straight to town. The driver of the lorry was waiting for me at City Hall Annex.
That time there was no Uber or Little Cabs ..We called Wonderview cabs and went to Dagoretti parking lot. The lorry was parked at some corner of the parking. It was at around 9.00 am.
I proceeded to some office that the driver showed me. In the office, one lady told the driver, "umejileta tena..and you how can I help you?" I am with him we have come for the lorry .
"I hope the driver told you what is required for the release of the lorry. Umekuja na pesa? Kwanza zimeongezeka! ". "Which money are you talking about madam, the court order says we pay Kshs 500 and here is the receipt " I retorted .
"Wacha nikwambie, hiyo ni sheria ya koti, hapa kuna sheria zetu, tumekua tukichunga hiyo lorry tangu Jana..kama huna elfu kumi na tano hiyo gari haitoki hapa!'... Sheria zenu zina nguvu kushinda uamusi wa koti, lorry tunachukua bila hata ya kuongeza sumuni. I said looking at her direct in the face. Tutaona! She said.
I told the driver to accompany me and we went back to town and straight to the registry of the City Court. The guys there had gotten used to my theatrics in that court for defending Bunge la Wazalendo that used to congregate outside City Hall
I borrowed some writing papers and wrote to the registrar asking him to place the file of the case before the magistrate. I wanted the head of city inspectorate and the officer in charge of Dagoretti parking be summoned to court to explain why they could not comply with the court order.
I proceeded to the court and sat in the bar as I waited for the file to be brought before the magistrate. I would from time to time walk out to the registry to harass the clerk to take the file to court .
"Wee enda kotini file inaletwa", one of them told me smilingly for the rapport I had created in the registry. As I sat in the registry I was called by a strange number. The caller introduced himself as the head of inspectorate and wanted me to go to his office ...
When I went there he apologised to me for what had happened telling me that some of my officers do not understand how things work. "I have seen your letter and I am giving you this note to take to them, I have even called them to release that lorry with immediate effect". He said .
I called the Wondeview driver and we proceeded to Dagoretti. When, we got there the very rude lady was subdued and could not talk to us . "Endeni muchukue gari lenu", she said. She could not look at me directly ..."See you next when we come calling again". I said .
I escorted the lorry while in wonderview up to Kawangwere and returned back to Rose Avenue . I called Boniface' Mwangi and told him that "the mission is accomplished".Concludes Lempaa
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