Kenya Police officers manning the Safaricom installed National Surveillance System is allowing a group of individuals and companies to monitor and track Kenyan motorists for non official police cases.
According to three victims of the practise, the police officers have been selling location details of motorists to criminals, auctioneers and other well connected individuals who later use the bought information to kidnap and harm the individuals.
In one case, a United States International University Africa lecturer, Dr. Dorothy Njoroge was a few weeks ago tracked through the strategically located CCTV cameras while driving along Mombasa road, stopped by a uniformed traffic police officer at the Bunyala Road roundabout and told that she was wanted for a robbery she committed in Mombasa.
The lecturer was unsure how to react to the accusation as she has neither been to Mombasa in at least 5 months nor involved in any criminal activities. She was later locked up at the Parliament Police Station and only released when her lawyer insisted on getting details of the charges. After her release and despited seeking communication from even the Inspector General, she has not been supplied with reasons for her incarceration and just pushed from one office to the other until she was told that reason for her detention will be looked into.
Dr Dorothy Njoroge later hired a private investigator who revealed that the reason for her arrest was because she was giving the CEO of Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) sleepless nights with her demand for accountability and so the CEO looked for ways of having her name tainted and forcing her from the AMWIK board which she chaired.
Dr Njoroge’s case is not unique as it bears similarities to that of James Okello who was tracked by an auctioneer using the CCTVs and his Safaricom mobile phone, vehicle impounded along Waiyaki Way and seriously embarrassed. He believes that he was tracked after an officer at the Jogoo house based Integrated, Control and Command centre alerted officers on the highway that he was driving along it and had them stop and have the auctioneers take a car whose payment was up to date.
Like Dr. Njoroge, James’ efforts to have the cases conclusively investigated have hit a brick-wall as senior police commanders have either refused to investigate.
The Ksh 15 billion Safaricom installed police CCTV cameras have the capability of tracking a flagged vehicle and alerting officers whenever the vehicle approaches any of the interconnected cameras.
While appearing on popular weekly show Jeff Koinange Live, the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet dismissed commuters fears of the CCTV cameras as unfounded, claiming that only criminals needs to fear them.
Well, the experience of James and Dr Njoroge clearly indicate that even the common man going about daily business will have to start fearing the police surveillance system as greedy officers manning them have crafted ways of making money from them.
Kenyans have also questioned why the cameras never works when high profile murders of the likes of Jacob Juma and Chris Musando are being investigated. In aninterview with the Capital FM, IC3 Director Francis Gachina says that those that normally don’t work belongs to the Nairobi County government and rarely the police ones.