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Of Habakkuk legal prowess and what ails our Judiciary

By Patrick Wachira
Monday, January 20th, 2020
As the dust settles, even literally, on the festivities and folks touted as legends have returned home after going missing for days, my uncle Habakkuk got into trouble with the law.

As the dust settles, even literally, on the festivities and folks touted as legends have returned home after going missing for days, my uncle Habakkuk got into trouble with the law.

Now do not mistake him even for a second with those village miscreants who think it is an achievement to sin every so often.

Habakkuk is one of those fellows who stick to the straight and narrow path, so much so that he sits on several village committees and school boards.

Even the wife Nereah can vouch for him, never mind that he frequently raids the women’s chama kitty, always coming up with some project or other, such as buying chemicals for the cattle dip.

In the end, it all sounds like good causes, so Nereah never really minds. How he manages to also pinch from the family’s grocery store without the wife suspecting is a story for another day.

I was telling you about how he ran afoul of the law, just after Christmas. You see, having learnt to drive in the 1960s, there are a few things that he may have forgotten. Or overlooked.

Now, out there in the village, there is no such offence as obstruction. Any clever-sounding cop who attempts to raise any such crap will face the full wrath of the entire village.

The argument is that if a car is parked on the roadside, and it happens to be the only village car, who has been obstructed? Well, there is some funny logic in there.

So, when some newly posted cop came across uncle Habakkuk’s 1972 Pick-up parked outside the provision store, he wrongly thought he could bully the owner into submission (feel free to interpret that to mean anything).

He was in for a shock. Habakkuk refused to hear of anything closely related to a traffic offence, and indeed, dared the young man to take him to court. Which he did.

Those who know Habakkuk appreciate his razor-sharp mind. Hauled before the local resident magistrate, the charges were read to him, to which he replied that he had no idea what the fuss was about.

Well, two witnesses were called, including the cop who had arrested him. Thereafter the magistrate asked what he had to say, now that two witnesses saw him commit the crime.

“I have no problem with that. Did you say two folks saw me commit a crime? Well, I can produce at least 100 people who did not see me commit the crime you are talking about. You want me to call them?” he posed.

The magistrate was the first to break into peals of hearty laughter, before everyone in the courtroom, including some two dozen kith and kin.

After the magistrate recovered from the bellyache induced by the uproarious mirth, he scribbled for  10 minutes as everyone waited for my uncle to meet his Waterloo.

Eventually, the sentence was read: Habakkuk had the last laugh as he was set free.

Outside the courtroom, he became a hero of sorts and was carried shoulder-high back to the pick-up that was waiting to ferry its master home, no doubt wondering what the fuss was about.

As he briefed me on the happenings later that evening, as villagers surrounded him at the local bar where drinks flowed freely, he was categorical our courts of law are nice places where for the price of a joke or two, spiced up as legal arguments, one can go scot free.

But there was a catch. He had not called to update me on his triumph over supposed legal shenanigans.

“If our courts really do their work and uphold the law, why have some fellows called Akashas escaped justice in our courts but once taken to court in the US, the hearings took a short time and the blokes were jailed for 20 years?” Habakkuk asked.

Having come across a kindmagistrate who listened to his arguments and set him free on what he referred to as trumped-up charges, Habakkuk now wants to seek an appointment with the same magistrate to discuss what he has called “serious legal matters and the trouble with Kenyan judiciary”.

Villagers are mulling raising some money to ensure the fellow gets a decent suit, tie and proper shoes as they reckon his gumboots are not exactly appropriate apparel for such a task.

Suddenly, he is a celebrity. Just like that! Folks, I will keep you updated. – The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily

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