Last Friday while walking home from work at around 10pm, I got myself into trouble by pulling out my phone to watch a video, how silly can one be. My work place is not very far from where I live and since the whole stretch is lit, the temptation to walk is eminent, that and the fact that Kigali is known to be a safe city.
A few metres away from home I saw a guy approach me but I did not pay much attention to him as I was fully focused on my video. He probably could tell I was not paying attention because when he reached me, just as I lifted my head to avoid knocking him, he hit me on the ribs and tried to grab the phone. I attempted to hold onto it and that attracted a bang on my head. The impact of the second punch made me drowsy enough to let go of the phone and the bag too. In that instance, the thief grabbed the phone and ran off into a thicket. A few people surrounded me to see if I was well but there was nothing much we could do. A moto guy offered to go to our village security team and informed them that someone had been robbed of a phone. It is later that they came to know it was me because after the attack, I walked back to the office to use a colleague’s phone to inform my family and a few friends of what had happened. When I finally met the security guys, they had just returned from combing the area where they had been told the guy ran towards. They promised to follow up on the case.
That night I prayed that my phone would be found, and I also hoped the thief would learn his lesson from that particular incident. On Sunday night a member of the village security team knocked on my window calling me out to identify a guy they had arrested. I could not believe it, this was faster than lightening! The security guys informed me that during their night patrol they decided to pass by the place where the thief had run to that Friday and it being the thief’s fortieth day, he was caught. I had to call a sim card they found in his possession to confirm if it was mine and indeed it was. Currently he is in police custody. Everyone I told of how fast this thief was arrested could not believe it. Those outside Rwanda wondered why he was not bleeding after I showed them his picture. I told them the rule of law is upheld in Rwanda. Elsewhere, people take the law in their hands and thieves caught red handed are not spared. Personally it was the first time I did not lay a hand on a thief, as someone who has been robbed before, I find one being beaten I will throw there at least one slap.
The 2012 Gallup poll report cited Rwanda as the safest place to live in Africa. In their 2018 Global Law and Order report it was ranked second safest. Overall, Rwanda is still considered a safe country. However, as citizens we must be vigilant and responsible. Our safety and that of our property is not the responsibility of police or security officials because they cannot be everywhere. We must be watchful and report anything or anyone suspicious to the authorities. As the economy grows, so will the population, the number of the unemployed will increase and they will resort to the quickest means of survival, the risk to them notwithstanding. Better safe than sorry!
Follow Jackie on