makanga

A Kibera court has acquitted a matatu conductor who used a selfie as evidence to shame a Traffic Police officer.

Senior principal magistrate Esther Boke on Friday said the prosecution failed to prove John Kinuthia committed the offence of failing to wear his maroon uniform while at work.

Kinuthia had been accused of violating traffic rules on March 19 after he allegedly failed to wear the required uniform. He was arrested on Waiyaki Way and taken to the Kabete police station and later arraigned.

He was charged alongside other touts who pleaded guilty to the offence. The others were fined and released, but Kinuthia opted to proceed with the case to conclusion.

Corporal Richard Otieno from the Kabete police station was the only prosecution witness. He told the magistrate that Kinuthia violated the traffic laws by failing to put on the required uniform while at work on the Uthiru-City Centre route. Otieno said Kinuthia was dressed casually.

“I arrested the accused person and gave him notice to attend court. It is the law that while operating as a conductor in a matatu, you are required to put on maroon apparel,” he testified.

In his defence, however, Kinuthia had produced a photo from his bag and told the court that the police officer arrested him after they disagreed on another issue and not over the alleged dress code.

He said the officer started harassing him claiming he could arrest him. Aware of what could befall him, he requested permission to talk to the matatu driver.

“I used that opportunity to take a selfie using the driver’s phone. In the photo as you can see, I was dressed in a tout’s full gear,” Kinuthia argued.

He presented to the court a selfie of him in full uniform and added that he also recorded their conversation with the police officer using his phone.

Boke ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove the case after confirming that Otieno had no proof that Kinuthia was without the required uniform during the arrest. She acquitted Kinuthia, affirming that his evidence was enough to prove he was in his uniform.

“The accused person successfully proved to court that he was in uniform and having considered both the prosecution and the defence evidence, I acquit him,” she said.

She ordered that Kinuthia be given back his Sh10,000 cash bail. The prosecution has 14 days to appeal. An excited Kinuthia thanked the court for the ruling. He said police officers harass them and create excuses to arrest them.

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“I knew I was innocent. I want to challenge other touts not to admit mistakes they have not done when arraigned by Traffic cops,” he said.

 CLAUSE MASIKA AND AKELLO ODENYO/The Star

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