Life is never the same for men wrongly jailed for sex crimes - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 15 April 2019

Life is never the same for men wrongly jailed for sex crimes

Sammy Mugo

Poor, sick, bitter and stigmatised. That perhaps best describes the lot of the elderly men released from prison after being wrongly convicted for defilement. They were released after the High Court found that they had been falsely accused by the alleged victims’ parents simply to settle personal scores. But the victims say they have since forgiven the accusers and just want to move on.
PREJUDICE
After regaining their freedom, they are trying to pick up the pieces after suffering both socially and economically. Some sold family property while others raised funds within the family to hire lawyers or to pay the fare to attend court proceedings.
“It is hard to sustain a lie and most of the sex crimes suspects are victims of false accusations. Police and prosecutors often fail to dig deep into the cases, leading to the suspects’ conviction,” says High Court advocate Wahome Gikonyo.
He adds that some lower courts also do not thoroughly examine the prosecution’s evidence, leading to a mistrial and prejudice against the suspects. He adds that in sexual offence cases, the lower courts tend to believe the evidence of the minor and her mother.
Take the case of Mr Macharia Kiama, alias Kibaaya, for instance. Mr Kiama, 56, and mentally unstable, was released last week by Justice Teresia Matheka, after appealing against a 10-year sentence for attempting to defile a five-year-old girl.
But the man from Gichira village in Tetu, Nyeri County, had already spent three years at the King’ong’o GK Prison.
STRUGGLING
His brother, Mwangi Kiama, says he was born deaf and mute, and that in 1992 he developed a mental condition that drew children to him. In June 2014, as a five-year-old girl was playing with him, holding his hands at the local shopping centre, her mother, who ran an eatery, ran towards them screaming, accusing Kibaaya of molesting her daughter. Mr Kiama adds that the woman had complained that his brother, who spent a lot of time at the shopping centre, was a nuisance. “That was the basis of the criminal case,” he says.
The incident was reported to police and Kibaaya was  arrested, tried and convicted.
“Some people still view him as an enemy. We suffered because we sold our domestic animals because of the case. We were poor but we became even poorer,” says Mr Kiama.
Efforts to get the mother of the alleged victim for a comment were futile, since she had moved without telling anyone where she was going.
Allowing Kibaaya’s appeal, Justice Matheka noted that Kenya’s criminal justice system is currently ill placed to deal with a disability like his.
In Mukurweini, Mr Sammy Ndegwa Mugo, 70, is also struggling to be accepted back into the community. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail for allegedly attempting to defile a nine-year-old girl. He had spent nearly two years in prison before the High Court allowed his appeal after finding that he was framed. 
FINANCIAL LOSSES
Mr Mugo recalls that, on June 6, 2016, he was standing outside his gate as the alleged victim passed by. Shortly thereafter, her mother started screaming, attracting neighbours.
“She alleged that I was defiling the girl. I was confused. The villagers landed on me with kicks and blows. I suffered partial hearing and sight impairment. I also broke one of my fingers,” says Mr Mugo, tears flowing down his cheeks.
Mr Mugo said all he had  done was warn a group of children, including the minor, to stop destroying his fruits and coffee berries as they passed through his farm on their way to fetch water from the nearby River Gura.
When the Nation visited him, he was with his wife, Ms Alice Wachera, and a family friend, Mr John Mathenge. He says they spent more than Sh300,000 on the case.         
Meanwhile, in Ithekahuno village, Mr James Ndirangu, 69, is bitter after spending five years fighting charges of attempting to defile two schoolgirls aged three and nine on June 24, 2012.
The former agricultural extension officer was lucky that Nyeri Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo found that he had been falsely implicated by the minors’ grandmother after he spanked them for picking avocados from his farm without his permission.
“We were good neighbours and I do not know why she decided to implicate me in such a serious offence. I have suffered for the five years and incurred huge financial losses,” he says,
“If I had the money, I would sue her for all the pain she has caused me with her false accusation,” he says.

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