Cases of assault and harassment in the public service vehicles (PSV) have been on the rise in Kenya and mostly, women have fallen victims to this vice.
The driver slapped and pushed me out of the bus - Wairimu Muthoni narrates ordeal in the hands of rogue Matatu crew
More than a year later, she is yet to find justice
Men have also fallen victims with police officers tasked with maintaining law and order not spared as well. A section of the public has raised concerns regarding the safety of passengers while using public transport.
For instance, in March 2019, a video went viral of a driver confronting an unarmed passenger with a wheel spanner, hitting him several times on the head. The matatu was a KAK 251 plying the Kangundo road route but no one has a clue whether any action was taken against the driver.
In July, another incident was reported and this time around, a life was lost after 28 year old Florence Wanjiru was allegedly thrown out of a speeding matatu. She succumbed to her injuries after reportedly waiting unattended to, for a whole day, at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
According to her mother, Wanjiru was hit on the head before she was pushed out of the Killeton matatu KCC 086 U (these were her last words). The driver was arrested as the tout went into hiding.
Wairimu Muthoni Wachira was pushed out of a Matatu
On this edition of #YouthMtaani this writer had a sit down with Wairimu Muthoni Wachira, who is a victim of assault in a matatu, left injured and her money stolen. More than a year later, she is yet to find justice.
For the 26-year-old, her only crime was boarding the wrong bus, and asking to have her change back, as she alighted to find the right Matatu.
Boarding the wrong bus
“My perspective of men changed, because that was the first time a man slapped me. I’m very selective, it has to be a matatu that gives a receipt. And I always carry exact change when boarding a PSV,” said Wairimu.
It all began on the morning of August 7, 2018, when Wairimu boarded a Super-Metro bus from the CBD as she was rushing to Westlands to deposit money at her Sacco. A few minutes later, she noticed the bus taking a different route towards Juja.
Wairimu asked to alight at fig tree bus stop in Ngara before the conductor asked her to pay. She gave the tout a Sh1000 note and he complained of taking a mere Sh20 from the Sh1000, and refused to give change. The fuss kept on for a while as she refused to alight and insisted on having her change.
The driver, despite noticing the commotion, continued driving and finally made a stop at Okoth Aura Road along Thika Super Highway, came to the back, slapped and pushed her out of the bus, without her belongings.
According to Wairimu, she sustained injuries on the left side of the eye and on the legs. The tout shoved out her belongings as they bus took off. All this time, fellow passengers watched in silence.
She reported the incident at the DCI Headquarters but was referred to Pangani Police Station where she was taken by an officer called Abdi, and met an officer in-charge of Traffic. She was later taken to the OCS and an entry was made in the OB and was assigned an Investigating Officer (IO).
Difficulties in Having a P3 formed and getting assistance
The IO then referred Wairimu to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Huruma for a medical examination and to have her P3 form filled and stamped. Here she met a doctor called Ian who cleaned and treated her wounds and asked her to come the following day for a stamp.
“I go back to MSF and I meet a lady called Angela at the reception, she tells me there is no such doctor (Ian) and there are no records of me being treated. She showed records of all patients that were treated that day and mine are not there until a KK security guard who gave me tea that morning said I was there that day… I went to Ngara Health Centre, another hospital at the CBD, GPO, Government Pathologist, KNH Police post, Milimani Police Doctor and they told me that I had to go back to that hospital that treated my wound to get their stamp. So it took 11 days for me to get the stamp,” she narrated.
Before going back home from the hospital, Wairimu visited the SuperMetro offices, reported the incident but the shift officer denied knowing the bus. She was then given a list of all the buses and narrowed down to three possible busses which had registration number KCH. Muturi, the shift supervisor who had taken her details, then called her saying he knew the mini-bus that she was assaulted in, and it was supposed to be off-duty.
After several visits to Pangani, she noticed that her Investigation Officer had been compromised and would get harsh anytime she asked for progress on the case, a matter she reported to the OCS who in turn changed her IO.
She then used her contacts from NTSA to get details of the owner of the bus whom she contacted and asked to have a sit down with at Pangani in the company of the OCS.
Court dismisses her case
“They came on a Sunday afternoon, 17th of the same month. It was me, the OCS, the owner of the bus, Muturi and Deputy OCS. We started talking and the owner said that vehicle was off the road and I told the OCS that the matter has to go to court. Mwangangi the new IO was told to go to Makadara and file a case,” said Wairimu.
On the day of the mention of the case 7th September 2018, Muturi came with the official driver of the bus and she told her lawyer that he was not the one driving the bus that day. The lawyer then talked to the prosecutor who told the judge that the driver was not the one who assaulted Wairimu and the case was dismissed.
After court, Wairimu shared her story on twitter where it caught the attention of NTSA and an officer called and asked her to report at their offices. She visited and an officer called Jamleck asked her to write a report again and after two weeks, she went back and was introduced to the deputy director licensing and registration who invited the owner of the bus and a date was set for the 17th October.
“The Super Metro director comes with a trail of that car. They have been claiming the vehicle was not on the road and in that trail, it shows on the 6th and 7th morning it went 30 kilometers from CBD, contrary to what they were claiming,” she said.
The supermetro director, who is a doctor, said her case was mental and asked to have her number and one from a relative. He later on called her cousin asking if Wairimu had any past mental issues. Her cousin explained that there was nothing like that, but the director never reached out again.
“Following up my case with NTSA also became an extreme sport and I was taken in rounds and rounds, without any help. So I told them this is the last time I’m coming here and I’ll circulate a letter to the Deputy Inspector General, Interior Cabinet Secretary, DCI and DPP,” said Wairimu who came for this interview armed with a copy of the letter she has since delivered to the said authorities.
With all the effort she has put in in the quest to have justice served, Wairimu believes all authorities tasked with ensuring the safety of passengers are in the pockets of the so called ‘untouchable individuals’ who are the owners of these buses.
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