The blue code of silence has reared its ugly head again but this time round, the court has gone ahead and handed a guilty verdict against a police officer who shot and injured a man at Kwanza, Trans-Nzoia County.

The Magistrate’s Court in Kitale is now expected to sit on March 16, 2023 to determine sentencing following the shooting of Mr. Caleb Sakwa Sindani at Kolongolo trading centre on December 16, 2018.

Mr. Sindani was shot by Peter Kamau Njoroge, then a Constable at Kolongolo Police Patrol Base, prompting an investigation by the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA).

In delivering the Judgement in Kitale, Resident Magistrate T. O. Omono cited testimonies of two police officers-  a Constable and his commander, a Sergeant- who had stood in court as witnesses: “(Their) testimonies in this matter should be considered with the blue code of silence in mind.”

The officers had provided evidence to corroborate Kamau’s account of events, but had ended up giving conflicting information.

“The testimony was at variance with the evidence of other prosecution witnesses. There can be no other explanation, other than the blue code of silence,” the judgement reads in part.

The Blue Code of Silence is a common phenomenon spanning across different countries and police cultures. It is the unwritten rule according to which police officers never provide incriminating information about their colleagues; to close ranks in silence and to cover up knowledge of a fellow officer’s wrongdoing with a collective blanket of self-preservation.

The Court of Appeal in Titus Ngamau Musila Katitu vs Republic (2020) eKLR

Prior to pronouncing the guilty verdict, the Court went ahead to review previous instances in which it felt that police officers were hell-bent on covering for the unlawful acts committed by their colleagues, including a 2107 report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Quoting the report, the magistrate said: “IPOA has faced a number of challenges. First, the success of IPOA is dependent on total cooperation from the police. Often the police fail to provide adequate cooperation for IPOA to prosecute officers allegedly responsible for committing crimes. In March 2016, IPOA released a report stating that police officers deliberately bungle some of their investigations in order to protect fellow officers.”

The Court also cited IPOA Board End Term Report IPOA Board End Term Report May 2012 to May 2018.

The Court, after hearing fourteen (14) witnesses, including police officers, placed Kamau on his defence, during which he called a witness besides giving a sworn testimony.

The judgement thus concluded: “It is abundantly clear that the accused person violated the guidelines contained in the Sixth Schedule of the National Police Service Act which enjoins police officers in effecting arrest to always use non-violent means first and only resort to force when non-violent means are ineffective.”

The officers had gone to Kolongolo market with the aim of arresting a mechanic identified as Dan, who had been reported at the local police station, allegedly for assaulting his wife.

The arrest turned chaotic before the shooting happened.

The shooting also resulted to the death of Mr Maurice Walela, who was in the company of Dan.