As George Kinoti knelt deep in prayer after taking his Holy Communion on a warm January afternoon this year, his life was on the throes of a dramatic turn. He was attending his regular Friday lunch-time Mass, and the church in the Karen suburb of Nairobi was full.
Before leaving his office he had told Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet that he was dashing out for Mass and would be back soon.
“I didn’t have a hint that within hours I would be appointed the Director of Criminal Investigations,” Mr Kinoti tells me inside his office.
The first thing you notice upon entering his office is the crucifix on the desk and the rosary hanging on a knob on the door of his wooden wall-to-wall cabinet. There are fruits on the table, tea, coffee, water, and various mementos around the thriftily furnished office, but nothing to suggest that this is one of the most-feared offices in Kenya today. That is for a reason.
Ever since he walked into the Kiambu Road headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on January 8, 2018 to become the country’s top detective, Mr Kinoti’s no-nonsense approach to his duties has been epic. He has a history of taking winding and dangerous trails across the country, and has been shot for that; not once, but twice.
The Kanga Squad taught him a vital lesson: “It is not the number of cops that counts, but their skill, experience, dedication, motivation and discipline.”
It was that dedication that had once taken him up to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda to pursue some hard-core criminals. He had also chased some thugs up to Tabora in Tanzania, where his car overturned.
“When I served in Migori, everyone knew my maxim: ‘You never steal in Migori and live,’” he says.
It is the Migori experience that hardened Mr Kinoti, placing him on the path to stardom and greatness. Years later, on December 12, 2018, he was awarded the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) First Class national honours.