Kenyans have been enjoying the serenity of their homes no matter how humble. We used to associate homicides with first- world countries and celebrities; given the ultimate accolade and constant spotlights on them. Talk of Michael Jackson- king of pop music, Bruce Lee-the martial arts film star, Diana- the Princess of Wales and Lucky Dube- the South African reggae legend whose murder robbed South Africa of the finest cloth ever cut. However, Kenyan news headlines have recently been flooded with homicides involving both the haves and the have-nots.
At a glance,
The year 2014 recorded the highest number so far- more than 1000 cases.
In 2018: Eldoret town recorded 90 homicides, Nakuru 88, Meru 79 and Nairobi (the capital city of Kenya) 66 cases.
In 2018: Sharon Otieno, a student at Rongo University was murdered in cold blood. She got into an entangled love affair with Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
In 2019: Tob Cohen’s body was discovered on Friday damped in a septic tank after a search which lasted 43 days. The Dutch tycoon’s wife Sarah Wairimu is on the spot alongside Peter Karanja, the former husband of Gilgil Member of Parliament Martha Wangari. Mr Karanja is allegedly Ms Wairimu’s lover.
Did they deserve to die? What is even surprising is the snail pace with which the Kenyan police and courts respond to these cases. It is as if the whole legal system in Kenya is crippled. Worth noting is the blatant disregard for human life which cannot be traded for money.
Thus, it is time the judiciary placed itself in the shoes of these death-stricken families. Each day that rises brings them nothing less than psychological trauma. Their lives are laced with extreme pain, depression, stress, anxiety and guilt. They simply can’t stop blaming themselves and wondering what if…
Apart from the emotional turmoil, they are forced to bear the financial burden ranging from funeral costs to the loss of bread-winners in the family. They have to dig deeper into their pockets and give their loved ones.
Most importantly is the legal cost that they have to incur for justice to prevail. In Kenya, one needs $ 100 to $ 500 to file a lawsuit and pay for court services. The most tormenting part lies not in the legal fee but the extensive court procedures that not only delay but also derail justice for the victims and their families.
There are three types of homicides:
Murder: refers to any deliberate and/or premeditated killing of another person.
Manslaughter: refers to killing as a result of recklessness or carelessness. There is no pre-planned killing geared by purpose or motives. The punishment for manslaughter is less severe compared to murder.
The Constitution of Kenya (2010) is very clear on homicides. According to the Penal Code section 204, anyone found guilty of murder, robbery with violence, treason and other capital punishment shall be hanged. This law is however contentious given the Supreme Court’s declaration that the mandatory death sentence is unlawful. Does the Kenyan legal system preach water but indulge in wine?
These are the pains of a crippled system, my take.