Nicholas Chege Mwangi (right) and Meshak Mburu Mwangi at the Milimani Law Courts, Wednesday.
NAIROBI: The driver and conductor of the bus in which a female passenger was allegedly stripped and sexually assaulted have been charged with robbery with violence. However, the two, Nicholas Mwangi and Meshack Mwangi, denied the charges before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua and were remanded at Industrial Area Prison until today when the court is to rule on bail. The victim was reportedly stripped and sexually abused in the bus plying Githurai 44 route.
The incident, which was recorded on video, was circulated on social media. The magistrate directed that the identity of the victim be concealed throughout the trial. “The accused is entitled to a fair trial and the place, date and particulars surrounding the circumstances of the offence have been captured in the charge sheet,” Mbugua said in her brief ruling.
She said it would be distressful for the victim if her name would be identified at the moment as she was likely to suffer double jeopardy saying her dignity must be protected. Mbugua said this following Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu’s request. He had asked the court that the victim’s name initials be used during the proceedings. According to the charge sheet, the two were accused that on the nights of September 19 and 20 at Millenium petrol station in Githurai 44, jointly with others, they robbed H E W of Sh10,200, a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone worth Sh27,000, one bottle of perfume, a clutch bag and make-up kit all amounting to Sh41,700. According to the documents, she was also assaulted.
The suspects faced a second count of sexually assaulting the victim on the same night they robbed her. Mr Ondimu asked the court not to release the suspects, arguing the offence attracts a death penalty should they be found guilty. He said there has been increased cases of assault and stripping of women which have caused great public apprehension. Ondimu added that there were compelling reasons the court should consider before releasing the suspects on bail.
“The accused never surrendered to police but were arrested after the said incident. Therefore, the temptation to abscond court is very high. While the accused enjoy presumption of innocence, the court should consider the evidence gathered so far by the police,” Ondimu argued. He also told court that the two should be detained pending the hearing of their case on grounds that their safety was not guaranteed due to the public outrage over the matter. The prosecutor said the suspects were likely to interfere with the victim and other potential witnesses expected to testify in the case.
However, their lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui opposed the prosecution’s request saying the accused were entitled to bail as it is their constitutional right. “The accused are Kenyans and are willing to abide by any condition imposed by the court. There is a witness protection programme where the victim can seek for help,” Kinyanjui said.
Earlier, the court declined to release the bus in which the offence was committed. The magistrate said the bus is the “scene of crime”.