So you found someone being beaten up
And when you discovered that he was a suspected thief
You joined in and started battering him
Did it ever occur to you that he could be innocent?
What happened to being innocent until proven guilty?
Even if he is guilty, who gave you a right to mete out such punishment?
The guy receives such a severe beating that he dies

So sometime later you are walking in town
And you hear footsteps of someone running toward s you
You turn to look and it turns out to be a stranger who is in a hurry
He passes you but not before you notice that he is wearing
A jacket that is similar to yours and is holding something in his hands
Seconds later you hear what sounds like several people running in your direction
But this time you don’t turn to look

So someone yells ‘Mwizi!’ (Thief) and then a dozen people descend on you
It dawns on you that you’ve been suspected of a crime
They are beating you with everything they have
Whips, belts, their hands, their feet and even stones
All the while asking you to produce the purse that you snatched
You try to tell them that this is a case of mistaken identity
But then they tell you that that’s what all thieves say

So they beat you and then beat you some more
But you still claim innocence and so they decide to teach you a lesson
Someone buys fuel from a nearby petrol station and then proceeds to pour it on you
Another produces a used tire and he puts it around your neck
And just when you have accepted your fate
The police arrive and disperse the crowd

So you are taken to the hospital and while you are waiting to be attended to
One of the police officers asks you what happened
And after you explain he tells you that the actual thief had been caught
They had been on patrol when they saw a man running while carrying a woman’s purse
As they were arresting him, they heard people shouting
And that’s when they came and rescued you

So you are attended to by the doctor and then admitted
You are given something for the pain and then you start feeling drowsy
But before you black out, you remember the guy that you helped kill
What if he too had been innocent?

© wamathai warugongo