Celebrating East African Writing!
The judge’s eyes were half closed behind the steel-rimmed glasses; not with sleep but with concentration as he riffled through the tome before him.
A deathly silence engulfed the courtroom.
The man in the dock fidgeted uneasily. His gaze solemnly fixed at the unfriendly face of the judge, dreading each passing second, for it would passage his fate.
The scrape of a chair and shuffling of feet were heard.
The judge lifted his eyes; the man in the dock looked at the shallow eyed face that had furrows on the forehead and a moustache.
“After going through the evidence presented before me,” the judge’s voice boomed in the courtroom. “The court finds Alfred Kiiru guilty of first degree murder,” the judge paused to stare at the suspect who stood stiff-erect in the dock. “The court hereby sentences you to die by hanging till certified dead by a medical doctor”
It was too much. Alfred Kiiru collapsed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The victim lay bleeding, a knife to his chest. He said thugs had attacked him before robbing him of everything. They had trailed him for a distance before pouncing on him; they were three, he said. Alfred Kiiru had found him. He had found him soaked in his blood. The blood had coagulated in the early morning chill. The victim had told him in barely incomprehensible snatches that he needed medical attention, urgently.
Alfred Kiiru needed to act quickly. A man was dying. A man’s whose life could be saved was dying. The knife was embedded in the body to the hilt. A nine inch long knife. He waved at an approaching car; it slowed down, and then sped, the driver having witnessed the bloody scene. A bloody scene and a frantic man in the middle of the road waving at cars.
Alfred Kiiru looked at the crowd forming. They were staring at a man soaked in his blood who needed medical attention and they were doing nothing, or they simply went their way. Idiots. He went to confront them. They simply stared at him. Stared at his malevolent eyes and bulging veins on his face, then at the victim soaked in his blood and who kept on muttering.
The victim of the robbery raised himself up, almost to a sitting position. He motioned with a weak hand to Alfred Kiiru, shaky fingers stretched to Alfred Kiiru. A drool of saliva dripping his chin, lips moving muttering unintelligent words. In a few seconds his eyes were bright, just like the rising sun as it peeked in the mountains eastwards. Then he collapsed back. The heart gave the final lurch sending bright blood spurting up. His eyes turned glassy and the chest ceased heaving.
He was dead.
Helplessness engulfed Alfred Kiiru.
A police car braked at the scene.
The crowd was staring at Alfred Kiiru. Staring at him with accusatory stares.
* * * * * * * * * *
Sergeant Kayla was a burly policeman. His frame filled the swivel chair that was too small for him.
“Can you tell me what relation you had with the murder victim?”
Alfred Kiiru looked dazed.”None. I found him lying in a pool of blood with a knife to his chest crying for help”
Kyalo’s features went dark. “I asked you what drove you to murder the man!” he barked angrily.
“I didn’t murder him. I…”
“I am not asking you to defend yourself! Isn’t it interesting considering your fingerprints were found on the murder weapon?”
“No! You are implying that…”
A slap cut him short.
* * * * * * * *
At court number one the proceedings were going.
The man at witness stand was testifying….”it must have been before 7 am when I was going to work when the man over there attempted to carjack me. When I slowed and he gave way, I sped off and called the police”
Defence lawyer: What do you mean by ‘gave way’?
Witness: He was standing at the middle of the road blocking way and flagging me down and despite my honking he wouldn’t make way.
“Considering you were in the car and the time was that early, what makes you positive that the person over there is the one that wanted to carjack you, Mr Onesmus?”
“What’s so particular about his jacket?”
“It has grey patches at the elbows; the very one he is wearing even now!”
“Does that imply the accused is the only person who dons a jacket with grey patches at the elbows?”
The judge’s bellicose voice had interposed, “I don’t see where this line of questioning is leading to. The witness had positively identified the murderer. You can proceed with your testimony, Mr Onesmus.”
“I saw him disengage from his victim upon seeing or hearing of my approach and run to the middle of the road.”
“So that means he wanted to carjack you when it was obvious the murder victim needed help at the time?”
“There were blood patches on his face and on his clothes, a sign of a confrontation.” Mr. Onesmus was through.
Three or four people who stood on that crowd almost a year ago testified.
But it was sergeant Kyalo and his men who carried the day.
“Upon careful investigations, we established that the accused here, namely Alfred Kiiru and the deceased, namely Charles Mukoma, had a long running vendetta that took turn for the worse and culminated with Alfred Kiiru coldly butchering his hitherto sworn enemy.” Kyalo confidently summed up.
Alfred Kiiru was thunderstruck.
Who was Charles Mukoma?
He even never knew the murder victim’s name.
* * * * *
Alfred Kiiru was hunched against the prison wall staring absent-mindedly at the ceiling. The boots of the wardens tapping at the concrete outside told him it was time the guard was changed.
He was sentenced to die by hanging.
But the law had a sense of humour for keeping for two years now at public’s expense.
They had not told him when they would hang him, or why they prolonged his misery as a government guest.
The society had condemned him unheard.
The law had made a productive member of society redundant.
He recalled his mitigation plea before the judge had cut him “…the court must take into consideration that I am a family man with wife and children to support, and that on the said date, I was going to work when I saw the victim lying by the roadside, and I tried all the means possible to at least save his life.”
“Would not it has been sensible to contact the police in the first place?” the judge’s voice.
“As a good Samaritan…”
“As a good Samaritan you tried to escape from the murder scene by attempting to carjack a modest citizen?”
It was too much.
The low wattage bulb cast grotesque yellow light inside the cell; prisoners, rendered to sub-human state snored loudly, others mumbled incoherently to themselves, the tap-tap of the wardens boots continued. Now and then some granite wardens voice would shout; “Scoundrels! Shut up there and go to sleep.”