OPINIONPeople Daily

Turning in criminal neighbour is a civic duty

Last week, somewhere in Migori, a woman, aged 23, decided she could sell her baby. Just like that, for Sh6,000. Yes. For that much, or that little, depending on where you come from. The story gets whacky.

The baby was sold to a woman at the past-her-prime age of 60. I shall not take it upon myself to decide if a woman at that age has the capacity to properly take care of an infant because that is a story for another day.

If, as suggested, the woman planned to sell off that baby to yet another party may be interesting. It would imply there is a ready market out there for babies. But we are not here to discuss how babies are sold or to whom.

I got interested because of how this crime was discovered. Listen to this: A neighbour heard a baby crying in the house of a woman who had neither delivered nor housed anyone who had delivered recently. She alerted the area chief, who turned the woman in. It took an alert neighbour to notice that something was amiss. Or, that things were not adding up.

This is exactly my point. I am saying that lots of crime that happens could be arrested (pun intended) if only we took it upon ourselves to check crime in our midst. That is to say that most of the bad people, or those who do bad things, live among and interact with us. And it is within our ability to notice when things are not right.

Police officers and other law enforcement agents cannot be everywhere. Nor do they need to be. In civilised societies, conscientious citizens have emergency numbers which are manned 24/7.

It is here that they call if they as much as sniff the commission of crime. It is incumbent upon us to let the authorities know when we see things that should properly interest a magistrate.

It should become our business if crimes are committed or about to be committed under our noses. Which brings us to another human being, named Timothi Kiptanui Kitai, the bloke with a Sh1 million bounty on his head.

The police suspect this homo sapien may be involved in dastardly crimes in Mt Elgon. Wherever he is, I am sure it is not in a cave somewhere in Siberia or Kamchatka. He must be within our borders. Someone must be hiding him.

The point is he lives among people. And he carries a gun so he must stand out like a beacon. After all, the last time he escaped from gaol or was granted bond, he appeared in his village brandishing a rifle and swore to kill someone.

Why isn’t anyone turning him in? He lives among people, friends, neighbours, maybe even relatives. I suspect he appears in some neighbourhood pub to mingle with his cronies. Why isn’t anyone squealing?

Or must we wait until we see the handiwork of his next exploits? My point is that if people so wanted, they could alert the police about his movements and his whereabouts. Why this is not happening must concern us as much as we are about terrorism.

Why? This is about domestic terrorism. When a man goes about killing fellow men and raping women that is terrorism, no less. Why this sort of bloke should enjoy the benefits of anonymity and live among peace-loving wananchi eludes me.

My prayer is that our collective conscience should prick us enough to make it our business to say it when things are not right. And many things are not right. —The writer is Assignments and Special Projects Editor, People Daily

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