Father, son to serve 35 years in jail for killing village mate over witchcraft claim
Three villagers, among them a man and his son, will spend the next 35 years in jail after they were found guilty of murdering their villagemate on suspicion of bewitching a woman.
Mr Chengo Kadenge, Safari Kombe Koi and his son Kahindi Safari Kombe were found guilty of murdering Mr Karisa Katoi Kani, whom they had accused of committing deadly witchcraft.
The woman who died is said to have been Mr Koi’s wife.
In sentencing the accused, Justice Reuben Nyakundi said the murder was well planned and executed with a joint common enterprise and malice aforethought.
Justice Nyakundi further noted that a fundamental principle is that courts should intervene where culture and traditions are used as a defence or justification to commit murder.
“This court, being in the exalted position of a trial court in murder cases, has a right and obligation to speak firmly and expand jurisprudence touching on belief in witchcraft as a justification to kill another human being, is not excusable,” said Justice Nyakundi.
Justice Nyakundi said it is evident that the social-cultural structures on witchcraft beliefs can result in the killing of vulnerable aged men and women of the community especially older people who are socially and economically disadvantaged and lack legal protection.
The accused, jointly with others not in court, murdered Mr Kani on December 8, 2012, in Matsongoni Village in Ganze, in Kilifi County.
The court noted that prosecution witnesses supported a clear narrative that the accused engaged the deceased in a physical altercation following a witchcraft cleansing ritual at the home of Mr Koi.
The accused person gave the deceased a cup and water with a concoction which was to be used to heal or restore the life of the wife of the third accused (Mr Koi).
“From the evidence, the accused persisted in violent attacks against the deceased, as confirmed by prosecution witnesses one to four. The acts of violence involved the use of hard sticks and clubs to inflict harm on the head, and within a few minutes the victim died,” said Justice Nyakundi.
He further ruled that the measure of unlawfulness and omissions by the accused demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the victim's death was neither justified nor excusable.
Justice Nyakundi also rejected the alibi defence by the accused.
“The nuances of the alibi defence generated by the accused persons are of such a character as incapable of credible rebuttal,” said Justice Nyakundi.
In their defence, the accused denied committing the offence, saying they were not near the scene of the crime and, therefore, would not be expected to have killed the man.