What happens when police and KDF soldiers face off

  • Both units ascribe themselves the phrase 'disciplined forces'
  • But when they come face-to-face, they are known to put order aside and tough it out to see who's boss

We saw a uniformed police officer balancing his 75, or thereabout kilos on the neck of a young man against a concrete pavement in Industrial area the other day.

The young man who police want us to believe is a suspect is yet to be charged with any offence, so is the officer who at times seem ungovernable.

This came weeks on our TVs after Hollywood-like motion pictures of a group of regular police officers escorted a de?ant Miguna Miguna out of the JKIA in a show of bravado and roundly clobbered journalists who were on the fringes covering the event.

The six-foot four inches tall well-built lawyer literally walked in the air in the heat of the harassment.

Miguna who never lets a ?ght go would latter call the police “thugs”.

But as fate would have it, a time always comes for the high as kite, bullish and boisterous police to lie low as envelopes. This is when they meet the KDF boys, Crazy Monday learnt.

Tales of police officers facing off with soldiers, especially in garrison towns, are not new.

A look at the military towns of Kenya- Nanyuki, Eldoret, Gilgil and parts of Nairobi gives a lowly account of the regular police before the feet of the KDF.

“Hao watu wakikusumbua ama wasumbue wateja wako unaita tu soldier mmoja kutoka hapa Barracks anawatuliza (If the regular police disturb you or your clients just call a soldier from Embakasi barracks to restrain them),” Anne Wangui a bar tender in Embakasi Nairobi, tells the Crazy Monday.

She says that on many occasion police were used to moving around bars in Embakasi arresting patron on non-existent offences like “drinking after hours” and making them (bar operatives) think of a counter strategy.

They sought the help of KDF officers around the area to help them and things work out well. “I have witnessed police vehicles release patrons back to bars to continue drinking after arresting them at the sight of a KDF officer. It helps when the bulk of your clients are soldiers,” adds Ms Wangui.

Wangui’s mode of operation can, however, be counterproductive to the bar operatives because the bruised officers usually return to avenge their frustrations on patrons.

Such a case happened in 2016 at the Governors Bar in Embakasi where a patron called soldiers to take on regular police who were harassing them.

The soldiers encircled the bar and beat some plain clothes police officers to pulp then ordered patrons to continue drinking in peace. After the soldiers downed one or two on the relieved patrons’ bills they retired to the barracks to ?ght another day.

The patrons stayed on mimicking how the regular police begged the military men to spare their lives.

They laughed harder on how the police ?ed. Unknown to them (patrons) the police regrouped and came in droves to teach the shrewd patrons a lesson.

The level of beating the patrons receive can only be comprehended in a YouTube video that among other things shows police breaking into toilets and pulling out female patrons for a thrashing.

It is not only in Nairobi where members of the disciplined forces have faced each other in an indisciplined altercation. In Maili Tisa, for instance, whenever the police are assaulted by soldiers in the never ending police- verses- soldiers bar brawls they would hunt down a lone military officer.

The revenge games would nonetheless go on and on that whenever a ?ght breaks in the region’s bars the ?rst question revellers ask is: “Hiyo ni vita ya masoldier na askari? (Is it a brawl between the police and soldiers?)” before thinking of intervening.

If it is between the two they stay away. This has led to zoning in Maili Tisa where some bars are marked for military and others for the police.

“In the military bars the maximum a thirsty police officer is allowed is seven minutes at the counter to down his 250 ml Konyagi, this is during the night,” said Kiptoo a bar tender in the town, “Most police officers drink before dark when the military is busy at work.”

It is however not only on the drinking front that the two bruise off. A Lang’ata base officer was left nursing a torn lip and face injuries after he tried to separate two ?ghting men one of them a soldier in Southlands estate.

“These ‘checks’ on the police have helped shape the conduct of police operating around barrack like is case with Nanyuki town,” said Farouk Haji a Nanyuki resident.

A police constable in the town could attest: “You never know when you are arresting a brother, wife or son of a Major or a Warrants Officer in town. So you have to be cautious lest you arrest him and they (soldiers) collect them from the cells at will. You have to be careful and act professionally,” says the police constable.

“Worse, try arrest or date their women.”

In the towns bars police men have been made to leave or speak less when soldiers speak and have suffered beating with nowhere to report.

But it was Eldoret West OCPD Samuel Mutunga’s testimony in court that can capture the real frustration the police undergo before the military.

A crestfallen Mutunga last month told a magistrate that he had no option but release 132 suspects who had fake calling letters to Eldoret’s Recruits Training School (RTS) after his efforts to investigate the forgery failed.

He blamed the KDF for not assisting with notes and other leads to help him prepare charge sheets for the fake recruits.

His attempts to question personnel in the barracks linked to the letters were fruitless, he said.

The police could not be allowed inside a barrack where some of the letters were allegedly drawn because they were regarded as “raia” (civilian).

“How can a raia question KFD?” a soldier posed.