Last weekend I had my phone (Nexus 4) stolen on a matatu in town; a City Hoppa bus on the Ngong Road -> Nairobi route. It must have happened as I was getting off at Kenyatta Ave / Koinange street, as I had it in my hands just before then, but had put it into my bag before alighting. I wanted to go tell Safaricom to block the IMEI so that the phone couldn’t be used on their network, and apparently they won’t do that unless you file a police report.
This is what happened when I went to the Central Police Station to report the theft.
TL;DR: it was an very unpleasant experience; somehow they manage to make you feel like a criminal for being the victim of a crime… (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Filing a report
After waiting for ten minutes in the front room without anyone talking to us, we were told to go sit in another room in the back. After fifteen minutes a guy came in and asked what we needed. I explained that my phone had been stolen in a matatu and that I wanted to file a report. He asked me several times which matatu route it was, and exactly where I had alighted. He lazily told me that I needed to go to the other police station in Kilimani because I had alighted in another jurisdiction (I didn’t).
Finally he agreed where I had alighted was under their jurisdiction, but said he didn’t have the occurrences book (“OB”) in which to write our report. He then proceeded to check scores of a football match on the radio, and then read through several newspapers. People came in, people went out, conversations went on, etc. One young man was being physically and verbally harassed — apparently he was a security guard and he had been wearing his green uniform sweatshirt while he was off duty. Someone brought him in because the color of the sweatshirt was the same color worn by the Administration Police (AP). I don’t know what happened to him.
Forty five minutes later someone else came in with the book. He handled another guy’s report before mine, a guy who had been selling milk and was robbed of 5,000 shillings and his phone, asking him all sorts of condescending questions and almost like trying to catch him in a lie. When he finally got to me I said I wanted to report that my phone was stolen. Then he accused me of not giving him my name and other details (and he hadn’t even asked for it, wtf!).
When I said I wanted the report so I could take it to Safaricom and have the IMEI blocked, he said that I shouldn’t do that because someone went to the effort to steal it, so why would I want to make it so they couldn’t use it? Also, why didn’t I just give the police a few days and then have them track it down (wink wink, for a fee, of course).
No stamp, cuz Sunday!
After the details were down, he told me they couldn’t give me a report because it was Sunday, and there was no stamp, so I’d have to come back tomorrow. Then some old, drunk dude walked in wearing a Muslim cap and coastal-looking kitenge (ie, not a police uniform). He started mumbling in Swahili and Arabic, then took me down the hall to another room. As we walked (slowly, staggering) he was excited that I came from Obama land, and that I knew Swahili.
In the room, he brought out a blank police report. It was folded and kinda wrinkled. He had to ask around to find a pen. I explained again what had happened, where I alighted, etc, and then wrote the IMEI of the phone on the form (I had brought the original box with me).
Buy me a soda
The kicker is that, when I was walking out with my report, the old crazy drunk guy stopped us and suggested that we buy him and the other guy a soda.
My friend and I gave some ummms and uhhhhs and looked at each other, and he kept insisting. I tried to tell him that I’ve just been a victim of a crime, why should I pay something? He muttered that next time he should help one of his African countrymen instead. I told him, “Watcha niseme tumeshukuru sana” (lemme just say we’re very grateful). Of course, he kept insisting, so I tried the common Kenyan trick, “Next time…” to which he responded, “Next time utagongwa na bomb” (you’ll be hit with a bomb). Ummmm.
I guess he was just mad, but that’s not something a cop should be able to say to you. In a police station, nonetheless! Anyways, out of the ten or so run-ins I’ve had with the police over the last six years I’ve lived in Kenya, I’ve never felt safer, protected, concerned for, or any of the other things police are supposed to do for you, so this was just par for the course.
Two hours later
The whole ordeal took 2 hours, during which my friend and I witnessed corruption and verbal/physical harassment of other people reporting crimes, and possibly arresting someone who had done nothing illegal.
Fuck da police
You were all thinking it, I know.