One March 12, 2015, John Matiko, received some unexpected guests at his home in Mashang’wa, Kisii County. It was the area chief and several gun–toting administration police officers. The chief and his men were all clad in uniform; they meant business.
Matiko was so terrified, the only question he asked them as he ushered them into his humble home was, whether they would have some tea. They declined the small offer. Clearly, they were interested in bigger things — the three bulls grazing outside.
Source of livelihood
In those tense and awkward moments, the chief pointed at the animals and ordered his men to go for them.
At that point, Matiko was so powerless and clueless, he sought to ask what was going on. But in the typical mafia style, they ignored his questions and pleas and drove away the bulls. And that is how the poor man lost his much treasured cattle.
A month later, in a bid to seek justice, Matiko, moved to court to fight for what was rightfully his.
He sued the chief and the Attorney General over the missing animals saying they were his only source of livelihood.
In an interesting twist, during the hearing of the case, a third man —one John Masingo — who the chief claimed had lost his cows to Matiko’s son, appeared in court.
Presenting his case before Justice Wilfrida Okwany, the aggrieved farmer lamented how his three bulls were driven out of his homestead by the chief and his officers without any explanation.
“The instant petition fits in the description of an instance where there is high handedness and oppression by government servants against citizens whom they swore to protect,” Justice Okwany said.
The chief who is not named in the court papers only raised suspicions as there were no stolen cows in Matiko’s homestead nor was he arrested or charged in court.
He filed an undated reply and unattested (declare to be correct and true) saying he received information from undisclosed informant on the suspect and upon calling a baraza, it was agreed that Matiko should explain where the stolen animals were. The court heard that the farmer willingly gave away the bulls as compensation. But Matiko denied that version of the story.
In a judgement made last week, the court sided with Matiko and ordered the Attorney General Githu Muigai and the Chief to pay the farmer Sh150,000 and also return his three bulls. Justice Okwany gave the two an alternative of paying Sh185,000 in the event the bulls will not have returned.
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“This court notes that the respondents have continued to sit pretty and have not bothered to make good the petitioner’s claim by returning to him his cattle that were unlawfully confiscated from his home way back in March 2015, almost 2 years ago,” the judge said.
In the final judgement it was found that State had opted to become the prosecutor and the judge.
“The respondents cannot be allowed to reinvent the wheel and apply kangaroo court methods in attempting to solve a stock theft case and in the process violate the law,” she said.