Ask me what I dread most in this world and I would cringe to say death. Not by hanging, not by accident nor by failing to wake up in my sleep. I fear the kind of death that would send me as a disgrace before anyone knows who I really am. I fear death through so-called instant justice or mob attack.
What happened to Captain Maxwell Mahama has given me flashbacks of my own experience some four years ago. I missed an encounter with my greatest fear only by a hair’s breadth.
That Thursday in 2013, I was almost lynched for being a thief- a phone thief, at the main Kasoa lorry station.
So many questions raced through my mind that momentous evening while I sat in the bus I boarded from the Kasoa station, brooding over what would have made the headlines to my family that fateful night.
It was around 8 pm and the neighborhood lights were out. I waited edgily for a bus after leaving my aunt’s residence. I heard a driver’s mate shout “Awoshie, Ablekuma! Awoshie, Ablekuma!!” Immediately, I headed in the direction and approached him to lead me to the bus.
In fact, I can’t recall where she suddenly appeared from but just a few steps into the bus, I felt a tap behind me and there she stood- my little angel of death. She looked six or seven, virtually in tatters, looking very dirty with a sniveling face, wiping off herself as if she had survived a stampede.
“Sister! Give me the phone you just took from me when I fell down running” she demanded in Akan.
For a moment, I thought she got the wrong person and so I ignored; as if I knew all about the plan to get me a beating that night. Then she persisted.
I paused for a moment, turned and yelled at her to dismiss her claim.
“Phone? Get lost before I spank you! Don’t ever think you can use one of those tricks on me, thief!” I scolded her in the common language and sat in the bus.
Before any of the passengers could apprehend what was really happening, this little girl had already jumped in the half-full bus with teary eyes demanding I gave her the phone. I entered the bus with my bag containing a laptop, my Samsung Ch@t GT E2222, together with some cash. And I was decently dressed.
The puzzled passengers looked on as they took a quick glance at the brat and decided to cross-examine me. Standing right in front of me, this petite fraudster claimed the supposed phone was given to her by her mother minutes before I picked it up from the ground where she fell.
“Sister, if you have taken the girl’s phone, just give it to her so she can go back home to her mother. The bus is almost full.” One woman advised.
I was left in a state of shock and confusion; fully aware what this could generate into if not handled properly. I would have suffered a heavy blow on my face before given any chance to speak- considering how my accuser grew more persistent. So I remained calm and explained the situation to the other passengers.
“I have no idea what she is talking about. This little girl is telling lies. Please do not believe her” I pleaded while trying to maintain my composure so I don’t raise any more suspicions. Like they say “no thief admits ever stealing.”
I persisted and finally got the passengers on my side.
Apparently, that imaginary mother of hers are the fraudsters lurking somewhere in the station waiting to hear any accusing tantrums of a phone theft so they could descend on whoever is being accused. The plan is to train, send and take over when their little trainee succeeds.
I was bowled over, left in a state of disbelieve as the passengers kept questioning the girl about the type of phone and the number of the said phone in order to verify the authenticity of her accusation. Within minutes, she ran out of words and swiftly dashed out of the bus threatening to go and call her mother.
When I fully regained consciousness from all that was happening around me, I searched my bag to ensure nothing of that sought had been slipped into it or taken out by any magical means. Everything was still intact except my sanity.
I showed commuters my phone and explained that this was clearly a scheme of engaging little children in the act of robbery. Only some bunch of geniuses and heartless people would be able to come out with such a clever scheme. Anyone would have believed such skilled liar, especially around that time.
Several minutes after the charade, the bus eventually got full yet there was no sign of this baby thief and her supposed mother. No one even saw where she went in the dark and it became patent that she was on a mission.
“Their medicine didn’t work today; you are very lucky, sister!” yelled a bread seller as the bus moved out of the station.
Now imagine the number of innocent lives that are being chased out of this world each day? First, he was an armed robber, then a galamseyer, finally we learn he is a prominent soldier, a captain, a father and a husband. So why burn him after making him suffer such painful death. Why?
I keep wondering what happened to the Kumasi girl who was subjected to a severe beating and molested for allegedly stealing a phone. The last I heard, she lodged a complaint at the police station and disappeared. Nobody knows what she’s going through- guilty or not. Dead or alive. But the 24 suspects arrested in connection with the case have been granted bail by the police.
I wouldn’t have been given the privilege to fill the airwaves but I’d be gone a thief, a phone thief- just because I wasn’t given a hearing.
What would have been my punishment if I wasn’t bold enough to rebuke this supposed six-year-old trained liar? Only God knows whether I may live to share this story or I would have been dictating from a wheelchair four years later. Let’s just say I wasn’t destined to depart this way- in the hands of provoked mob. But none of us is far from this reality. Not even you.