Police to serve 7 years for killing Kwekwe Mwandaza

Friday February 17 2017

Police Constable Issa Mzee (left) and Inspector

Police Constable Issa Mzee (left) and Inspector Veronica Gitahi. They lost their appeal against the seven years they got for the killing of schoolgirl Kwekwe Mwandaza. PHOTO | PHILIP MUYANGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHILIP MUYANGA
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An appeal by two police officers sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for killing Kwale pupil Kwekwe Mwandaza has been dismissed.

The Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed the appeal lodged by Inspector Veronica Gitahi and Police Constable Issa Mzee, saying the killing of the 14-year-old schoolgirl was not consistent with the use of their firearms.

14 OFFICERS

Judges Milton Makhandia, William Ouko and Kathrima M’Inoti wondered why a group of police officers led by Inspector Gitahi were unable to disarm the minor.

“The use of the firearms was not consistent with the National Police Service Act, even assuming she was armed with a panga, she was one against 14 officers,” said Mr Makhandia, who read the judgement on behalf of his two colleagues.

The judges said they found no basis to interfere with the sentence meted to the accused by the High Court.

However, the judges said there was no proof that the officers smeared soil at the crime scene to cover up blood stains.

HAIL OF BULLETS

The appellate judges also said the Director of Public Prosecutions had no right to file a cross appeal since the accused, who were convicted of manslaughter, were not acquitted.

Inspector Gitahi, who was dressed in a black flowing dress with a purple shawl, a head gear and dark glasses, was in charge of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kinango when the incident happened.

Kwekwe was killed on August 22, 2014 in a hail of bullets after the officers raided her family's home in search of a man they said was a wanted criminal.

During sentencing of the accused, High Court Judge Martin Muya noted that there had been rampant misuse of firearms by police officers.

RECKLESSNESS

The judge said there was reckless and wanton misuse of firearms resulting in the death of the girl.

“Whereas the court appreciates the dangerous work police do, a message must be sent to the police that the citizenry of this country have entrusted unto them dangerous weapons to secure their own security and that of the people, to do otherwise will be unlawful,” said Justice Muya.

Judge Muya noted that a custodial sentence against the two officers was warranted.

NOT A COIN

The judge declined to order that the accused compensate Kwekwe's family, saying it was his view that they were not people of great financial means

He said owing to the rampant violations of victims’ rights, a victim compensation fund ought to be established.

Inspector Gitahi and Constable Mzee were charged with murder on October 13, 2014 and pleaded not guilty.

The court convicted them of manslaughter.