Kimani sat in the courtroom dock waiting for the judge to pronounce his sentence. The judge said, “Will the accused please stand up to hear the verdict of the court.” Kimani stood up in his ill fitting suit and faced the judge. The judge said, “After listening to the evidence from the witnesses, I am convinced you are guilty of the charges. For the crime of smuggling and selling blood diamonds from Sierra Leone I sentence you to life imprisonment. May this be a deterrent to others like you how believe they can use their jobs to conduct illegal activities.”
Kimani looked at his lawyer in shock, then further to his family who were sitting in the viewing section of the courtroom. His mother and sister were weeping and wailing, his father and brother trying to comfort them.
Njoroge, his former best friend, workmate and yes betrayer, was comforting Kimani’s fiancée. His arms were around her and he herded her towards the door, pausing as he reached the door to turn back to Kimani and smile. Kimani watched him walking out of the courtroom as he; the innocent dupe in a grand international smuggling ring was in chains.
Kimani grew up in a small village in Nyeri. His family did not have much money but they had enough food to eat. Kimani was a bright boy doing well in school. When he went to high school he joined the aviation club and learnt how to fly planes. After school he got a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering. He passed with flying colors and got a series of jobs. Then he landed a good job as a flight engineer with an international firm that specialized in small planes that transported goods all over the continent.
Kimani was excited because the money was very good. The plane would have just him and the pilot dropping and picking goods. Kimani had been working on getting his flying hours so that he could be registered as a pilot. That is what had given him the edge in the interviews. The fact that in an emergency he could also land the plane.
That is where he met Njoroge. Njoroge was the pilot and Kimani was the engineer/co-pilot. Njoroge was from a very prominent rich family. He had studied in all the best schools. Njoroge was being paid a huge salary to pilot the planes both small and large for the international company. “I like the small planes because they offer more flexibility in terms of work hours, I have my family business to run most of the time,” he explained to Kimani.
Njoroge taught Kimani everything he needed to know about flying the small plane that they would be using. He would sometimes on long trips let Kimani pilot the plane. Kimani loved this time when he would get experience.
As time went by Kimani became more professional at flying and got his pilot’s license. Njoroge would allow him to fly more while he relaxed. Spending so much time together they became friends. Soon Njoroge would invite Kimani to events where the high and mighty were present. Kimani was intimidated but Njoroge told him to relax and have some fun.
Soon Kimani and Njoroge were hanging out together regularly. They would hit the town and party. Njoroge seemed to be known by everyone who was anyone. Sometimes Njoroge would tell Kimani to carry for him his bags or a bag to the customs and give it to a specific customers/immigration officer. He explained that he was carrying things for his family business and he did not want to be hassled by the immigration officer. He said that he wanted njoroge to help him because it would look suspicious if he was always the one going to that immigration officer. Sometimes though he would send him with his bags and tell him to use the regular
After Kimani had worked for about six months njoroge asked him what his plans were. He explained that he had a girl from the village nyeri who had just finished her degree in commerce and was looking for a job. He was looking for her a job in Nairobi so that she could settle down then they get married. Kimani also told him that he was trying to save some money so that he could set up a business for his brother and sister so that they could be independent and not have to depend on him.
Njoroge told Kimani to send Njeri’s CV to him. Kimani did and njoroge was very impressed. Njeri had graduated with a first class degree. Njoroge told Kimani to tell Njeri to come to Nairobi for an interview in his company. Njeri came and met with njoroge and he was further impressed. Njeri was very beautiful, soft spoken but aggressive. He offered her a job as his P.A which after consultation with Kimani she accepted.
Kimani was now very settled. He now could concentrate on making some money to build a business for his siblings. One day Njoroge called Kimani to his house. He had just flown in and Kimani had been on leave so they had not flown together. When he got to Njoroge’s house he found njoroge had a bottle of champagne on ice and he looked very happy.
“Kimani today is your lucky day. I just concluded some family business in Sierra Leone and got some of my money from it. I want to give you a loan so that you can start your business. You can pay me in a year’s time. There’s no hurry. I got money to burn and I don’t need it in a hurry,” with that he threw a bag at Kimani.
When Kimani opened the bag he found dollars that added up to around 800,000 Kenya shillings. He protested that that was too much money but njoroge told him it was ok as long as he made sure that he paid him back.
Please don’t tell anyone I lent you money. You know how guys are at the office. They will think am the World Bank. This is between the two of us, don’t even tell Njeri.” Kimani agreed too stunned to think things through.
First thing the next morning he deposited the money in the bank. Then he called his siblings and asked them to come to Nairobi. Within a short time, two months he had set them up in running a business selling imported clothes and jewelry that he would bring in when he was flying around Africa.
Kimani was happy. his plans were finally coming together. he was getting married to Njeri in three months. he had just flown in from sierra Leone with njoroge and he was looking forward to spending some quality time with Njeri. in fact he was carrying her engagement ring which he had just bought. everything was going like a dream.
Kimani and njoroge had just gotten off the plane and were picking their bags when Njoroge’s phone rang. he told Kimani to wait for him and walked off to talk on the phone. when he came up he looked upset. he gave Kimani one of his bags and told him to go with it, he was coming. he had left something on the plane that he was supposed to be giving Mutiso the customs officer.
Kimani took the bag together with his and headed for the immigration offices where the bags were checked. when he got there he asked where Mutiso was. the Immigration officer, someone he had never seen before told him” Mutiso is not here, I am the one here today. open the bags and let me see what’s inside.”
Kimani gave him the bags and looked around the small airport terminal. there seemed to be a sort of dead silence. he wondered where everyone was. it seemed the airport was filled with strangers.
the immigration officers finished with his bags and then opened the one belonging to njoroge. he seemed to be doing a through search in the bag. then he brought out a small bag which seemed to be at the bottom of the bag. he opened it and removed the contents. there were 8 uncut clear stones.
He picked up a phone and called someone “I have found them. I found them in the flight engineer’s bag. come quickly”
Kimani stood there too stunned to speak. By the time he had recollected his thoughts there were two airport police at his side.
He protested. “it’s not my bag. I am carrying it for my friend Njoroge. It’s all a misunderstanding. Let’s wait for him, he will explain”. The policemen looked amused at his ‘lies’ then shrugged their shoulders. They put him in handcuffs and led him to an interrogation room.
Kimani was forcefully seated on a cracked plastic seat and told to wait. In about ten minutes a white guy in an expensive Italian suit walked in. He had a name tag written inspector Matthews and underneath it was written international crimes, Interpol.
Inspector Matthews sat down and looked at Kimani. “Mr. Kimani, you have been found trying to smuggle in blood diamonds from Sierra Leone. We have been observing you for a while and finally we have caught you. Do you have anything to say?
Kimani said, “I am innocent.” That bag belongs to the pilot of the company. He gave it to me to carry. Ask him. It’s not mine” the inspector looked at him. He nodded to one of the policemen who went out of the room and returned with njoroge and the bag Kimani had been carrying. Matthews gestured to njoroge,”is this him?” Kimani nodded.
Matthews turned to njoroge and said, “Mr. Kimani is alleging that the bag is yours. What do you have to say about that? Njoroge with an easy smile said, “he’s lying that’s not my bag. If it is mine then it should have my things in it. Let’s open the bag and see what’s in it.”
Matthews gestured for the bag to be open. A suit of flight clothes in a laundry bag was removed, sum cologne, and some magazines. Kimani’s heart sank when he saw the magazines had a subscription label with his name. What?
But he cheered up when he realized they were going to open the laundry zip. He knew he did not have any missing suit. This will prove my innocence, he thought. When they brought out the suit his smile faded. On the breast pocket in embroirred gold thread was the name Kimani, Flight Engineer. Kimani finally realized Njoroge had set him up to take the fall.
When njoroge saw the look of dawning realization on kimani’s face he smiled. Looking at the inspector, Njoroge said “as you can see there is nothing of mine in that bag. Am sorry my friend has been caught up in this smuggling business but it has been proven that nothing of mine is in the bag. You have checked my bags and found nothing unusual. Can I be permitted to go? You know where to find me!” the inspector looked at him then told him that he could go.
Kimani was left in the room with the inspector. “Mr. Kimani do you have anything to say about the diamonds. It would be easier and better for you if you told us the truth,” Matthews said. Kimani looked at Matthews straight in the eye and said, “inspector, I know what the evidence suggests but I am innocent. That bag may have things that look like they belong to me but they are not mine. You have captured the wrong guy.” Matthews looked at Kimani and then said, “we will see,” then he left the room.
Kimani was removed from his seat with force by the two policemen and taken into a waiting Land Rover where he was stashed in the boot. He was taken to Nyayo house to be interrogated. When they reached Nyayo house there were many reporters with cameramen taking pictures of this prestigious flight engineer who had been caught with blood diamonds. Kimani hung his head in shame n sorrow as he was led past the journalists into the building.
Kimani was taken to Kamiti after being interrogated by Interpol and the local police. Luckily for him twp of his cousins were in remand for armed robbery so they made sure he was not harassed. His family came to visit him, standing by him and getting him a lawyer.
Njeri came to see him after a week. “Sorry I couldn’t come earlier. It was very busy in the office with reporters calling to ask njoroge for a statement. Njoroge told me everything. How could you accuse him of being involved? He has so much money and he is rich. Why would he need to smuggle diamonds. Please confess the truth and they will go easy on you.” Kimani looked at her and kept quiet.
After that she never came to visit. She usually sent his siblings with food for him and letters where she said that she was sorry she couldn’t come she was busy but she loved him.
After two months Kimani was arraigned in court. by this time they had gone through his financials and found the mysterious appearance of 800,000 kenya shillings. This and the fact that the immigration officer had disappeared were further nails in his coffin. Kimani thought the immigration officer had tipped njoroge about the crackdown at the airport and gone into hiding.
In court he plead not guilty and the date for the trial was set for three months time. The judge denied him bail based on the fact that he was a pilot n flight engineer and he had money. “there is reason to believe that the accused is a flight risk so I deny bail” said the judge as he summarized.
Kimani by this time had realized that things were really bad and he might be convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. After he was taken back to Kamiti the Interpol agent came to see him.
Inspector Matthews looked at Kimani across a scarred wooden table. He said “I have a feeling that your innocent or at a very small pawn in this chess game. I want to help you so help me help you. Is there anything you can tell me that can help me tie Njoroge to this thing. You do know Njoroge’s family have lobbied their friends including the politicians, the police and they are planning to bribe the judge. Everyone has agreed that everything be blamed on you. So if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in prison you need to give me information. I am trying to investigate but the police here are stonewalling me.”
Kimani told him that the only thing he knew would link Njoroge to the diamonds was the missing immigration officer. Matthews told Kimani that he would leave his number with his brother so that he could find him if he remembered anything.” I am leaving the country but will be back for the trial. Let me know if you remember anything significant” then he left and Kimani was taken back to the cell.
The three months passed and Kimani was taken to court. Kimani had by this time given up hope of winning. He had heard rumors that the policemen who had arrested him had been bribed by njoroge to say that he had even been found with drugs in his possession.
Kimani was praying for a miracle, that Interpol would present new evidence that would clear him. At the back of his mind was the fact that this case was the typical case of a Kenyan prisoner. A guy like him, a man from the village with no connections and no money going against a man from a politically elitist family with money and connections. He knew things were really bad when Interpol did not present any new evidence. He heard in court all the evidence against him. He had to agree that if he had read just those facts in the newspaper about someone else he would have presumed them guilty.
Kimani wanted to scream ‘am innocent’ but he knew at this point all was lost. How many people who are in prison or remand are innocent with the system of corruption and greed keeping them in?
The trial had taken four months to conclude. By the time the trial was ending Kimani knew that there was no hope of being set free. There were only two people who could prove that he was telling the truth. One had disappeared and the other was the one who was framing him. “How could I have trusted him so completely? I should have asked questions. Now it’s too late!”
When the judge asked Kimani to start for the judgment of the court Kimani braced himself. The judge after finding him guilty sentenced him to a life imprisonment at Naivasha maximum prison. Kimani was so shocked. He watched as his family and friends cried. Njoroge walked Njeri out and turned back at the door to smile at Kimani.
Kimani was allowed to see his family before being transported to Kamiti where he would spend a week before being taken to Naivasha with other prisoners. He hugged his family and as he left his brother gave him his bible which he had left at his house. He was grateful though he thought how I can read God’s word when he has abandoned me.
When he got to the cell Kimani opened the bible and flipped the pages. he saw yellow post it’s that he had written verses and others things he was supposed to remember to do. He was discouraged thinking God how can one fall down so far so fast. When he was about to close the bible he saw a note with a name and location. He tried remembering why he had written that name, and then it clicked.
“Lord thank you for answered prayers. I finally have something that can help me.” Excited he asked another prisoner for a pencil and started jotting notes. His hope restored he went to his cousins who managed to borrow for him a cell phone. He called his brother and told him to call inspector Matthew and ask him to come see Kimani. Kimani slept well for the first time since he was arrested.
The next morning Matthews came to see him. Kimani told him, “Mutiso the immigration guy, I know where to find him or rather how you can find him. Njoroge covered his tracks very well. There is nowhere I can incriminate him. Mutiso, on the other hand did not expect to ever be caught. He used to ask me for a lift sometimes when we were really late getting to the airport. There were certain houses in Eastleigh where he used to go.
“there was a time the airport was swarmed with VIPs so he couldn’t leave with the bag njoroge had sent me with. He gave me a number, an address and a name where I should deliver the bag and a number for who I should call to drop off the package too. I guess he thought njoroge had told me what was going on so I was safe. I have written everything I can remember at the back of the bible.” Kimani had been speaking so rapidly he ran out of breath.
Kimani said,”can you help me? This is the only chance I have to prove my innocence.”
Matthew looked at Kimani. “I will see what I can do. this information would have been critical before you were convicted but now it will be hard to work on after sentencing has been done. Don’t worry I will follow it up myself. I can’t trust the police not to leak the information I have given you then evidence and Mutiso will disappear. if I find out anything I will be in touch with your brother and lawyer. I know you are being shipped out next week.”
Matthew came up to him and shook his hand. “I have bad news though. you probably don’t know this but njoroge and Njeri announced their engagement this morning. they are getting married in a month’s time. I thought you might like to know.”
Out of the things Njoroge had done this hurt the most. Kimani was crushed that Njeri the woman he loved could betray him like that and with his worst enemy. Kimani walked back to his cell a broken man, something prison had not managed had been managed by his girlfriend’s betrayal.
Kimani was transferred to Naivasha maximum prison. There had been no word from Matthews who had disappeared. his family had come every day to visit him and encourage him. He had briefed his brother on what he had found but told him not to tell anyone and raise their hopes when all there was a very slim chance. When Kimani arrived at Naivasha his cousins had told him who to see so again he was lucky he was not harassed.
Kimani kept waiting. Matthews had not called or text his brother to tell him anything. Kimani was mentally counting down the days to the wedding of Njoroge and Njeri. he fantasized about being set free just before the wedding and bursting in just as the priest asked “is there anyone who objects to this wedding?” then he would walk in and everyone would stare in shock and horror as he said, “I object. this woman is pledged to marry me. I am the innocent one. lock him up” Kimani realized that it was a fantasy. things would never be the same again between him and Njeri. it was over.
Kimani was beginning to lose hope when two days before the wedding Matthews came to see him. He had a smile and he even hugged Kimani.
“We found Mutiso. he confessed after we also caught the man whose name and address you had. Don’t worry I used some of my contacts and the matter was hushed up. So your friend doesn’t know. we are ready to arrest him. Apparently the deals also involve Njoroge’s father and a few politicians who have been helping him to move the diamonds through diplomatic channels. I just wanted you to know. obviously you wouldn’t go free right now. we have to wait until there is another trial but in a few weeks you will be a free man.”
Kimani expected to feel relief at those words but he didn’t. He just felt empty and angry. His life had been ruined by a man he had considered to be his best friend. His name was in the mud and he had lost the love of his life. All he wanted now was revenge. For njoroge to feel the pain and humiliation he had felt.
Kimani said, “Matthews I need a favor.” Matthews leaned over and Kimani told him what he wanted.
The day was bright. the church was beautifully decorated and the cars outside the church showed that this was a wedding of class, no riff raff allowed. the guests were well known individuals from the political, social and music scene. it took an engraved invitation shown at the door to enter the glittery party.
The bride entered the church and the guests were stunned at how beautiful she was. she wore a white lace dress with crystal beads sown into it that glittered. she had a priceless diamond necklace around her neck and diamond eardrops. all this just made her natural beauty shine through. she looked like Cinderella at the ball. no one looking at her would be able to tell just how far she had come from the village.
when she reached the front the handsome bridegroom took her hand and kissed it. there were many in the audience who wished at that moment that it was them up there getting married. the couple was looking too hot for words.
the minister read from the word and then asked is there anyone who has reason to declare why this two should not get married. there was a hush. guests were conscious of the fact that Njeri’s ex-fiance was in prison. they thought maybe his relatives or friends would try to stop the wedding. there was a collective sign of relief when no one stood or shouted an objection.
the couple then said their vows and went to sign the marriage certificate. as soon as that happened they were brought back to the front of the church and declared man and wife before the congregation. all of this was being televised live on TV to viewers who had wanted to catch a glimpse of this fairy tale wedding. they thought lucky girl.
Then the doors of the church burst open and a group of policemen walked in. in front was Matthews waving a bunch of papers and a gun. he walked right up to njoroge and told him, Mr. njoroge, you are under arrest for the smuggling and selling of diamonds from sierra leone. also for falsifying evidence against Mr. Kimani. I have an arrest warrant.”
Njoroge’s father came to protest, “do you know who I am. how dare you embarrass my son like this? I will have you deported and will sue Interpol.” Matthews smiled and said sir, “i also have a warrant of arrest for you. you have been using your family business to buy and sell illegal gemstones from all over Africa” at this news Njoroge’s dad collapsed with a heart attack. Njeri in the meantime had started screaming, it can’t be true, it can’t be true. Kimani was innocent. what have I done?
over the next few weeks there was a lot of media coverage on the story. several politicians and businessmen had been arrested for being involved in the diamond scandal. Some police were also under investigation. Kimani was a hero to so many especially those in prison. they applauded him for not giving up the fight.
when he came out after Njoroge’s trial and subsequent life imprisonment his family threw a party for him in Nyeri. he was trying to enjoy himself and enjoy the nyama choma and beer that he hadn’t tasted for almost a year, when his brother called him aside. “Njeri is here. she wants to talk to you. she is at your house.” Kimani went there and found her. what do you want?
I came to say that I am sorry. I should have believed in you. Am sorry. is it possible to start over? Njeri pleaded.
Kimani sneered “you know what I can’t forgive. you have known me all my life and you choose money over me. I can believe njoroge fooled you at first; he did the same to me. but for you to forget the man you loved and believe a man you had only known for a few months. that is what I can’t forgive. anyway aren’t you married? you should be comforting the man you choose. don’t ever come look for me again. what we had is over. I never want to see you again” with that he walked out never turning back even as Njeri sobbed and screamed for him to come back
njoroge was jailed for life with ten strokes of the cane after evidence was uncovered about different smuggling runs that he had conducted. unfortunately for him, Kimani’s cousins were waiting for him at Kamiti and well what I can say he did not see the good side of prison. after trial he was send to Shimo la Tewa maximum prison where he would expect to spend the rest of his natural life.
his father was also convicted and the family business shut down. his wife and daughters ran off to Europe to hide and escape the scandal.
Mutiso was also convicted of several crimes but his sentence was reduced after he testified and gave evidence linking several prominent politicians to the syndicate.
Matthews was given a medal of commendation by Interpol and another by his country. he is somewhere; undercover helping to get information on bad guys that will lead to prosecution.
Njeri was an outcast. no longer accepted in Nyeri and also in the elite circles she moved to Malindi were she is working as a tourist guide to make ends meet.
Kimani is studying law at the university of Nairobi. he realized that when he was in prison there are many prisoners who need someone to defend their rights even if they don’t have connections or money. he is also suing the government for 50 million for not investigating his case properly and falsely imprisoning him. the case keeps being adjoined but his lawyer Oozy is sure that in the end the government will have to settle the case.