Comrade Patrick Kamotho who was arrested last weekend spent an extra night at the Industrial Area Remand Prison after failure to raise a cash bail of KShs20000 on time to secure his release. Kamotho who was to appear before a magistrate court at Makadara in Nairobi monday the 4th May 2015 at 8am had to wait until 3pm when his case came up for hearing due to carefully choreographed hitches.
According to the Bunge la Mwananchi National Coordinator Wilfred Olal, Kamotho’s file was missing at the court prompting the delay in hearing the case. “We had to go to Kamukunji police station with the advocate to trace the file and on reaching the station we were told that the file had been forwarded to Makadara Law Courts, but on reaching the court we were surprised that Kamotho’s case had changed from failing to appear for a court hearing to assault”.
When eventually the case came up for a hearing, the presiding magistrate dismissed the assault case as lacking of merit and gave the alleged complainant and Kamotho up to 18th May 2015 to resolve the issue and report back to the court. The magistrate then released Kamotho on a cash bail of KShs20000. According to Kamotho’s wife, members of Muthurwa community had raised the bail money by close of the day and were scheduled to make payments early tuesday the 5th May to facilitate his release. It is not clear why protection agencies failed to raise the cash bail but there are indications that they could have pulled out on realizing that Kamotho’s case had changed to assault.
What is baffling is at what point did the case change considering that Kamotho was arrested allegedly due to an arrest warrant that was issued by the Makadara Court pointing to a possible smear campaign aimed at criminalizing Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (GHRDs). The conspiracy thickens after the case delayed to take off until 3pm despite the scheduled time of 8am pointing to frantic efforts to trump up charges on realizing the wide public attention Kamotho’s arrest had attracted.
Smear campaigns and criminalization of GHRDs are tactics that have been used by regimes worldwide to slow down activists and divert attention from the struggles the GHRDs engage in to the persona of the GHRD in order for the authorities to escape scrutiny and to prevent the distressed GHRDs from getting assistance from protection agencies and the Human Rights Community. The protection agencies and the Human Rights Community should be careful not to fall prey to state propaganda aimed at isolating GHRDs critical to it.
Meanwhile several GHRDs took time off their busy schedule to offer solidarity for Kamotho despite authority’s attempt to criminalize Kamotho. These include comrades Charles Olonde, Wilfred Olal, Hillary Mulialia, Salim Nganga, Keneth Kirimi, John Koome, Gacheke Gachihi among others. Prof Yash Ghai of Katiba Institute who promised to provide an advocate fulfilled the promise as Katiba Institute sent advocate Lempaa who stood in solidarity with comrade Patrick Kamotho.
As we prepare to retire to our beds, we have to remember comrade Patrick Kamotho who will spend a cold night at the Industrial Area Remand Prison due to carefully choreographed scheme to detain him reminiscent of the KANU regime underhand tactics to detain critics.