Grief and pain have rocked a family in Emutoma village in Butere following the death of a girl who was under treatment for injuries suffered during a sexual assault.
Sharon Angulu, 10, was reportedly defiled by her neighbour, identified as John Makokha, while she was on an errand.
Her father, Mr Alfred Akungwi, said his daughter died at Kakamega County General Hospital.
“My daughter … was defiled by our neighbour and she died while undergoing treatment. My heart is very heavy and I am lost for words,” he said.
The girl was defiled on April 25 and succumbed from the resulting complications on Monday, May 23.
She was a Grade Three pupil at Mutoma Primary School and had been in and out of hospital since April 25.
Mr Akungwi said the man grabbed his second-born and only daughter and took her into a nearby sugarcane plantation, where he raped her.
“My daughter told me that she had been defiled by the man who was known to him. He had asked her to get into the sugarcane plantation with him but she resisted and that is when he grabbed her and hurled her into the cane thicket, defiled her and strangled her, leaving her to die,” said Mr Akungwi.
“I think he left her knowing she was dead. But she managed to gain consciousness and managed to crawl out of the sugarcane plantation before she was rescued by another neighbour, who was passing along the path.”
Mr Akungwi, a bodaboda rider, was called back home by his father, Mr Emmaniel Makokha, to take the child to hospital.
They rushed her to Butere Sub-County Hospital, where it was confirmed that she had been defiled and severely injured.
“The doctors said she needed to go to the theatre for reconstructive surgery because she had extensive damage on her private parts,” explained a teary Mr Akungwi at the Butere Police Station.
She was discharged from hospital on April 26 on the condition that she return after three days for a routine checkup.
On May 19, her condition deteriorated and when she was taken for a checkup, doctors referred her to Kakamega County General Hospital, where she succumbed on Monday morning.
The suspect was arrested by Butere police. The case was mentioned last Friday and a hearing was planned for June 17.
Butere sub-county Police Commander Joel Chesire said the case had been changed from defilement to murder.
“We arrested the suspect on April 27, 2022 and the case was in court with defilement charges. But we have been informed that the victim succumbed and we have therefore changed the charges to murder,” said Mr Chesire.
Ms Nancy Jomo, a human rights activist with Magharibi Justice Group, said defilement cases were rampant in Butere and Khwisero due to excessive abuse of drugs.
“The major factor promoting defilement here is [that] parents of the victims get compromised by the perpetrators through an out-of-court settlement. Lately, five cases have been settled between parents and perpetrators at the expense of the victims,” said Ms Jomo.
She also blamed delayed conclusion of such cases in the courts as a contributing factor.
Ms Dorine Brenda, the director of Samrine Integrated Support Programme in Butere, called for justice for the girl’s family.
She said the suspect had been released from jail on bond after he was arrested in robbery with violence case.
“It is hardly a month since he was released from custody and now he has killed an innocent child. Such characters need to be kept away from society for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Mr Maseno Wangaj, a local political leader, called for patience from the family and the community.
“The act is painful and heinous but I appeal to each one to remain peaceful and patient and leave the matter to the court because already the suspect has been arrested and the family has to get justice,” he said.
He called on the authorities to ban the use of kangaroo courts to settle defilement and rape cases.