A traffic officer was Wednesday asked to explain why he regularly receives money from a Kisumu businessman.
Constable Alfred Mutinda, from the Kisumu central base, told the National Police Service Commission vetting panel that the money was payment for “escorting a Hindu god” during religious processions and hearses during funerals.
“I am paid to escort a ‘Hindu god’, which is sometimes taken around town for religious processions,” said Mr Mutinda, sparking laughter among the panel and witnesses, during the vetting of police officers at the Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu.
Mr Hemal Kishori Kotesha, who owns Kotesha and Sons Limited, a transport company, has been mentioned several times during the vetting sessions for reportedly giving money to top traffic officers.
Mr Mutinda told Commissioner Mohammed Murshid that he earned Sh3,000 for escort duty, but could not explain if these extra assignments interfered with his core mandate of policing roads.
UNABLE TO RESIST OFFERS
“I have never been able to resist the offers to escort the god,” said the officer.
He described Mr Kotesha as “a kind and good-hearted man, who cares for the poor.”
“How can you explain it when a transporter with a fleet of vehicles sends money to a traffic officer?
“Can you describe that as helping the poor? And why does he not assist teachers, agricultural officers, but only police?” asked Mr Murshid.
“Kotesha does not give us money so that we can protect his businesses. He is just a good-hearted man,” said Mr Mutinda.
The traffic officer added that the businessman’s vehicles are never stopped by police because all are roadworthy.
Commissioner Ronald Musengi said the issue was serious because several police officers had told the panel that they regularly received hand-outs from Mr Kotesha.
Another officer, Constable Absolom Kibet, said it was common practice to introduce new officers at the Kisumu traffic section to Mr Kotesha.
During cross examination, a letter Mr Kotesha wrote to the commission last week seeking to clarify why he gives money to the officers was read out.
The 36-year-old businessman said: “I have good relations with most of the officers around and within Kisumu. I don’t give them money to seek favours. It is out of my good heart.”
He further said that some of the officers supply him with sand, ballast and other building materials, which he delivers to construction sites.
The vetting of the 238 traffic police officers ends Friday.