It’s Monday morning and City Hall is once again a beehive of activity after the weekend break. People are pacing up and down to pay bills or have their various queries settled. But it is the right wing of the establishment that catches one’s eye. This is the Nairobi County Court. About 15 street children are being escorted into the court and onlookers crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the racket accompanying their arrival. Not long after that, the children are charged with mugging and dumping waste in the central business district (CBD).
For many years, Nairobi County Court has played a significant role in deterring petty offences, but majority of city residents do not know of its existence. The Standard established that a minimum of 13 cases are heard at the court every day, most involving breaking county by-laws. Annually, around 700 cases relating to prostitution are handled at the court. Suspects usually face charges such as loitering in a manner likely to suggest that they were out to engage in prostitution or engaging in prostitution. As Nairobi is home to the infamous Koinange Street alias ‘K-Street’ and other prostitution districts, it is not shocking that at least three prostitution cases are handled by the county magistrate on a daily basis, boiling down to 15 cases every week and 60 monthly. Anne Mwende was yesterday arraigned in the court accused of “loitering with intent to engage in prostitution”. However after defending herself, the magistrate declared that she was innocent.
Those found engaging in prostitution, pay a maximum fine of Sh2,000. “Stephen Okok, John Kuria Kamau and Mwangi Kamau were found depositing refuse in a manner to create litter (sic) on February 21 at 6.30pm contrary to By-law 19,” read a charge sheet. They pleaded guilty and were ordered to clean up the area. The Standard established that majority of the cases before the court relate to dumping with 2,400 such cases being handled by the court annually. A maximum fine of Sh2,000 is paid for the offence. Wear Badges Hawking is a common phenomenon in the CBD. According to city by-laws, hawkers are supposed to wear badges and always display them conspicuously. Shouting for purposes of hawking and placing of goods on way-leaves for purposes of hawking is an offence. Earnest Kamau was yesterday ordered to pay Sh1,000 for unlawful hawking. He will serve seven days in prison if he doesn’t pay the fine. A spot check also revealed that approximately 480 people are arraigned in the court for erecting buildings without approved plans. Those found guilty pay a maximum fine of Sh100,000.