Witchcraft claims paralyse court session in Kisii

Lawyers closely follow the hearing of a case where four elderly women were lynched over witchcraft claims last year in Marani, Kisii County. 

Photo credit: Wycliffe Nyaberi | Nation Media Group.

A court in Kisii on Wednesday had to adjourn the hearing of a murder case over claims of witchcraft.

This was after one of the lawyers representing the accused abruptly fell sick in a case where four elderly women were lynched last year in Marani, Kisii County, over allegations that they were witches.

Prosecutors, led by Mr Hilary Kaino, told the court that Mr Shaffin Kaba was unable to attend proceedings because he had fallen sick on Tuesday.

Mr Kaba is representing suspects Mr Chrispine Ogeto and Mr Nelson Tumbo.

“Mr Kaba is well known for attending court and even if we say we give him up to tomorrow, I do not think he will have recovered,” Mr Kaino told Justice Roselyn Ougo.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for September 26-29.

Justice Ougo said the two have a right to representation and she would not proceed with the case minus their lawyer.

Amos Nyakundi, Chrispine Ogeto, Peter Angwenyi, Brian Mecha, Ronald Ombati, Justine Morara, Hesborn Ongondi, Nelson Tumbo and Justine Akiya are accused of killing Rael Sigara Onkware, Agnes Moraa Ototo, Jemimah Nyang’ate and Siendege Mayaka on October 17, 2021.

Form for candidate

The grandmothers allegedly took a Form Four candidate out of the family’s house at night for a walk and he lost his ability to speak.

The legal team representing the victims’ families is led by Senior Counsel John Khaminwa and Harun Ndubi. Rosemary Kirui represents the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

The nine accused pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder and they are remanded at the Kisii main prison.

Justice Ougo allowed prosecutors to file an application for witnesses to be allowed to record more statements.

“The key evidence is not enshrined in the body of the case. I will make a formal application for the court to allow the witnesses to record additional statements,” Mr Kaino said.

On Tuesday, protected witnesses were allowed to describe what happened on the fateful day as members of the public and the news media were barred from the court. They testified in closed chambers, with only lawyers and the accused remaining in court.