A man who was cleared of terrorism charges by a Kwale court last week was yesterday abducted by unknown men in front of his relatives as they were travelling home in Mombasa.
The family’s hopes of reuniting with their kin after six years in remand were dimmed by the incident that has triggered an uproar, with human rights organisations calling for an end to abductions and enforced disappearances.
Amani Mohammed Mwafujo, a terror suspect, was seized from a matatu just after he had been released from the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison. The family said a Kwale court ordered his release last Thursday.
“We had no idea that the celebration would be short-lived. We have been following up on his release from last week. My niece was to pick him up on the same day the court order for his release was given. But she was told to come on Friday, which was pushed to Monday,” his sister, Ms Ramla Mohammed, said.
Vehicle sped off
“As we were waiting to board a matatu to town outside the prison, a stranger came and greeted my brother. But he said he had no idea who the person was. We boarded the matatu but after a short distance at Shanzu Teachers Training College, at about 10.30am, a Toyota Probox and a Land Cruiser blocked the matatu,” she added.
Six men ordered her out of the PSV then grabbed Mr Mwafujo and forced him into one of the two vehicles, which sped off.
“We were sitting in the third row behind the conductor, where my brother was in between me and another passenger. The men threw me out and took my brother. They were in civilian clothes and their faces were not covered,” said Ms Mohammed.
A March 17 court order had acquitted Mr Mwafujo after finding him not guilty on all the charges.
“This criminal case is coming up for judgment before Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido. It is hereby ordered that the accused person is acquitted on all the offences he is charged with in all 10 counts. The accused person shall be set at liberty forthwith unless he is otherwise lawfully detained,” states the order.
10 terrorism charges
Mr Mwafujo was arrested on October 26, 2016 in Kwale County, where he taught Kiswahili and History at Tawheed Secondary School.
He was later arraigned at the Kwale Chief Magistrate’s Court with 10 terrorism charges. They include possession of articles, information for use to commit a terrorist act being a member of the Al-Shaabab militia group.
However, by the end of the prosecution case in March 2019, only two witnesses had testified, with a pending warrant of arrest against the investigating officer requested by the prosecutor for failing to respond to court summons.
From June 2018 to March this year, the case has been awaiting judgment. His family is now calling on the government to intervene and return their kin, saying he had never been arrested before.
A long-time friend and former secondary school mate described him as a quiet, hard working person, who had never had any disciplinary cases.
Muhuri Rapid Response Officer Francis Auma said it had become a worrying trend at the Coast, where people disappear after being abducted.
“We are worried. The government knows where these people are being taken and as human right activists, we won’t remain silent. If it means going to nearby countries for human rights courts, we will do that. The officials in charge at the security departments should inform us where they are taking our people. Someone has been acquitted by court, then you abduct them; that’s unfair to the family,” said Mr Auma.
He said this was the second case of abduction this year.