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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 12:07 GMT
Bribes paid to join Kenya police
Kenyan police officer next to minibus taxi
Mini-bus taxi drivers complain that police officers often ask for bribes
Kenya has cancelled the just-ended police recruitment drive, after allegations of widespread corruption.

Anti-Corruption Commission head Aaron Ringera said up to 80% of the candidates had either paid bribes or used their connections to get jobs.

He said candidates paid up to 100,000 shillings ($1,400) to be recruited into the police force.

Kenya's president was elected in 2002 on a pledge to fight corruption.

But western diplomats say President Mwai Kibaki has failed to curb bribery.

'Cash in envelopes'

As well as cancelling the recruitment of the 3,000 new officers, Police Commissioner Maj Gen Hussein Ali also suspended about 60 senior officers involved in the drive.

"I will not waver in confronting sleaze or any other crime regardless of who the perpetrators may be," he said.

A stream of law enforcement has been polluted at the source
Aaron Ringera
Anti-Corruption Commission
A recent report by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International found that the police service is ranked as one of the most corruption institutions in Kenya.

Mr Ringera said he had video evidence of senior police officers openly asking for bribes, which he said would be passed on for possible prosecution.

He also said officers had toured the recruitment centres, pushing for their friends and relatives to be given jobs.

"From the commission's own observations in those centres, the exercise was riddled with outright bribery, canvassing and influence peddling," he said.

"Kenyans cannot expect officers recruited in such a manner to uphold any ethics and integrity in their future careers. A stream of law enforcement has been polluted at the source."

George Simiyu, who tried to get a job with the police, told the Daily Nation newspaper that after undergoing physical tests, he and some others were told to wait.

"We were [then] called into the office one at a time where the recruiting officers asked for a 'letter from your parent'. Some produced such 'letters' and received admission letters. The 'letters from parents' were envelopes containing cash. Those of us without any were told: 'Bye'."

The Daily Nation reports that starting salaries for police officers were recently raised by 115%, to 10,000 shillings ($140) a month.

Have you ever been asked to pay a bribe to get a job? Use the form below to tell us your experiences:

As I was driving in Nairobi earlier this year, a cop stopped me, and claimed my vehicle was extremely dirty (after I had returned from a safari) and asked me for a bribe as I was causing visual pollution. I refused and he became extremely agitated and threatened to take me to jail with a court appearance. I settled for paying two pounds to get out of it.
Alim Karmali, Toronto, Canada

Are you kidding? Corruption is tightly interwoven in socio-political landscape. It is now accepted as a little vice to a "greater" virtue. You just can't win. Corruption is a state sanctioned "institution" and the little guy just plays by the "rules."
Moses Kibara, Boston, USA

While I have never paid a bribe in Kenya, I do acknowledge that bribery is rampant in Kenya's public institutions. Due to high levels of unemployment, people are desperate to do anything to get a job. But why can't the police recruit the many unemployed university graduates in the street and pay them good salaries. What is $140 in a country where you need more than $10 to feed one person per day and you have not paid for a house? The police salary increment was cosmetic. More than four police families share single room housing. These have been known to lower morals among members of the force in a country ravaged with Aids.
Jasper Motanya, Fort Leonard Wood, USA

Corruption in the Kenyan police force has been going on for years. It's not an extraordinary thing at all. I remember when I first tested to get my Kenyan driver's licence I had to pay a bribe in order to pass the test. Students testing with no money to bribe were failed instantly and asked to go home heartbroken and frustrated. Furthermore if you had 'connections' you would only drive a few blocks and return with an approval for a licence. With no bribe money you would be asked to dive very long distances and in very intimidating conditions. Imagine never having that experience of driving-it's like throwing someone in a lion's den and after all that failing the test because you do not have the right 'connections'! It's a man eat man type of situation but you learn to adjust and move on.
Musondo Maalum, Nairobi, Kenya

Having lived in Kenya for most of my life, I believe the problem of corruption has just gotten worse. This whole 'transparent' anti-corruption drive has only succeeded in driving the bribery underground. Where the police used to ask for about 2 as a bribe, I was recently asked to pay up to 40! It is ridiculous and as you can see from the article it's obviously being engineered from grass-root levels!
Samiya Gaid, London, UK

This has been the normal trend in Kenya for years; I remember bribing police men at the age of 15 for driving with no driver's licence. Whenever I land at the airport, all immigration officers and police men assume I have to bribe then to get into Kenya when all my documents are in order. But on the other hand, these policemen are supposed to support families with only Kshl 10,000 when cabinet ministers are receiving monthly salaries plus benefits worth Ksh1 000,000. I do not condone bribery, but I understand.
Yassin Gure, Washington DC

This is not unique to Kenya. In Cameroon, you have to settle the policemen when they stop your car. I have seen drivers on many different occasions giving bribes to policemen. On my way to the airport, when I was leaving the country, our car was stopped a number of times and we had to settle. The police officer to check me at the airport out rightly told me "give me money, you are going abroad, it shows you are rich". This attitude is unacceptable and must stop.
Eric, Dallas USA

I lived and worked in Kenya for many years and can only say that it is indeed in a league of its own when it comes to corruption. This evil is deeply entrenched within Kenyan society and when the very people who are entrusted to curb it are corrupt themselves, then one cannot see an end to this vice. This is an even more monumental task as it has to be tackled right through the political establishment with a total "clean up" from top to bottom. We can only hope that one day the political will actually comes into existence and tough actions are taken for the greater good of the majority of hard working Kenyans.
Jagdip Singh, London, UK

I had first hand experience of this last summer when I visited friends and family in Kenya. On my way back driving to the airport, we were stopped by the police at a road block on the highway. They could not find anything wrong, so they looked at the back seat passenger and my brother did not have his on. Instead of a normal ticket, he asked for 10, but he kept asking for a tickets, and he let us off with 1. This is normal for Kenya.
Suraj, Leicester, UK

It is a well know fact that the police in Kenya are corrupt. Over the years the problems has got worse. If such scandals start from recruitment, what hope is there for any of these young policeman to ever uphold the rule of law? Unfortunately the poor man on the streets has to pay for all the bribes after the recruits are trained and released on the street to harass and collect bribes from the common people on the streets. Kenyans have to rid this evil for future generations.
Mohammed Chaudry, Stavanger, Norway

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