Police in Murang'a are investigating a family for allegedly settling out of court cases of rape against its mentally disabled member.
Murang’a South sub-county police boss Alexander Shikondi said the family has been accused of twice receiving money from suspects who were caught raping the 40-year-old woman.
"We are investigating the claims that the family has been demanding goats and money from rapists targeting its disabled member,” he said.
“A case in point is where … it demanded a goat, a crate of soda, 100 litres of traditional brew and Sh2,000 from one suspect."
The man was reportedly summoned to the family’s home in Maragua Ridge. After the family accused him of raping the woman, he pleaded with them not to report him to the police.
The man negotiated with the family and agreed to pay a fine.
"He had waylaid the woman as she roamed the village, dragged her into the bush and raped her. He was caught by villagers who had heard the victim scream in distress," Mr Shikondi said.
The same man was reportedly caught raping the woman again on January 11. He attacked her at around 6.40pm as she carried water from a nearby river.
“After the matter was brought to our attention three days later, we refused any form of negotiations and demanded that the matter be reported to the police,” said Ichagaki Disabled Network Coordinator Damaris Muthoni.
On May 29, another suspect was caught raping the woman.
Ms Muthoni said the network pushed the family to take her for a medical examination at Maragua Level Four Hospital. A medical report confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted.
“We have now made sure that the matter is recorded at the Maragua Police Station and the suspect has run away. But we are helping the police to track him down so that he can be charged with the offence,” Ms Muthoni said.
Mr Shikondi, who explained that it was a crime to settle sexual assault cases outside court, said his officers were on the trail of the suspect.
In February 2021, a court ruled that once a rape case is lodged in court, only the Director of Public Prosecutions has the powers to withdraw it.
He said: “We want any evidence to confirm to us that there were rapists who were forgiven by the family after they paid a fine. We will interrogate those who will be incriminated in the scheme and we will prosecute all of them.”
“This is a culture that we must do away with. You cannot be in the business of selling justice to sexual offenders and in the process overlooking the hurt against the victims,” he said.
“It is even more sad and outrageous when the victim does not have the ability to speak for herself, since she is disabled. She is living in a very risky family that has members using her as an earning opportunity.”
Ms Muthoni said the culture of family members receiving tokens to cover up aggression against the disabled is entrenched in society and sometimes involves collusion with administrators.
“We will be very grateful if this culture is abolished and all are made to know that it is criminal … that defilements and rapes can be settled by paying tokens to family members of the victim,” she said.