Revered crime buster jailed ending a chequered career

Friday April 6 2018

police officer Titus Ngamau

Former police officer Titus Ngamau Katitu (right) consults with his lawyer Cliff Ombeta at a Milimani Law Court on March 21, 2018. He has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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He was a hero in Githurai and residents protested for days calling for his release after he was arrested for felling a suspect at the bus stage five years ago.

A probation report filed in court testified as much – that he was a darling of the people – having helped reduce crime in the area.

In fact, some of those who were interviewed, including boda boda operators and women selling vegetables in Githurai, said Mr Titus Ngamau Musila Katitu should be released and sent back to Githurai to help reduce the surging crime rate.

They said the incidence of mugging, among other crimes, had gone up since his arrest.

POLICE WARNED
But the 45-year-old former Githurai officer will spend 15 years in prison for killing Kenneth Kimani Mwangi on April 14, 2013.

Justice James Wakiaga jailed him for 15 years, some 12 years should act as a warning to the police on misuse of firearms and three years to be served in probation – as part of his rehabilitation.

The former officer, described by his colleagues as industrious and dedicated to his work, maintained that he did not go out looking for Mr Kimani.

Instead, he together with his colleagues were on normal patrol in Githurai when they were called to the main terminus that somebody has stolen a phone.

The suspect managed to escape but he traced him the following day.

COLD BLOOD
The circumstances under which Mr Kimani died remained unclear – rights’ bodies and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) maintained that he was shot in cold blood.

Mr Kimani’s mother Purity Wanjiku Mwangi said her son was executed by the officer who later boasted afterwards of his ‘heroic deed’.

She said she was still mourning the death of her other son – Oscar Muchoki Mwangi - who was also shot dead almost a year later in similar circumstances.

In her case, her son’s life was brutally cut short by Mr Katitu for no reason.

“I do not believe in an eye-for-an-eye but the court should sentence him to custodial sentence,” the mother said in a probation report filed in court.

She has since fled to Norway to live with her daughter after she was allegedly threatened.

REMORSE

Mr Katitu, on his part, said he shot in the air to scare a crowd but sadly someone lost his life.

In his decision, Justice Wakiaga said the court had to look at the evidence presented before it, the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the case.

He said in his view, a recent Supreme Court ruling did not curtail the discretion of the court.

“Sentences have to be fair not only to the accused but also to the victim,” he said, adding that some sentences are meant to act as a deterrence or a correction.

He noted that Mr Katitu had been posted to Githurai on special duties and was popular with the residents.

He noted that the father of four was remorseful and the incident bloated his job where he had served diligently for 20 years.

PROBATION REPORT

Placed on his defence, Mr Katitu maintained his innocence saying he never planned to kill Mr Kimani but was responding to cries by members of the public.

His lawyer, Mr Cliff Ombeta, urged Justice Wakiaga to consider a probation report filed in court, which gave a good impression of Mr Katitu as “a man dedicated to his work, a loving and caring parent”.

Part of the report was prepared by Machakos probation office, who interviewed his family members, neighbours and the local administration.

The probation office also interviewed people in Githurai and who praised him for his role in reducing crime in the area.

The officer interviewed boda boda riders, shoe shiners, vegetable and fruit vendors, matatu drivers and touts at Githurai bus stop.

FOOTBALL
Mr Kimani, then 27 years old, was a former footballer with Mathare United.

Mr Kimani’s mother said that the death of her son brought her pain and anguish, more so the accusations that her son was a “known thief”.

“I was traumatised by the bravado expressed by the accused person that he was justified to execute my son in cold blood, unarmed, in defenceless submission and on account of unproven allegation yet our law presumes a suspect innocent and provides for a fair trial of all criminal allegations,” Ms Mwangi said.

Mr Katitu was born in 1973 in Machakos and went to Kathingani Primary School and later Masii Boys where he wrote his final examination in 1991.

He started Kathingani Lipua Band before joining the police force in 1997.

The court heard that his wife, Pauline, ran away from home after he was arrested leaving behind their four children.