The High Court has given a nod to the State’s appeal against a ruling in which televangelist James Ng’ang’a and three others were aquitted in a case in which the pastor was charged with killing a woman by dangerous driving.
Chief Magistrate Godfrey Oduor, who has since been transferred to Nakuru, said the prosecution witnesses, presented to the court by the police, failed to place Mr Ng’ang’a at the scene of the accident, and therefore it could not be proved that he was driving the Range Rover when the crash happened.
In the ruling, which was read by Senior Principal Magistrate Karen Njalule on Monday, Mr Oduor said evidence from the four witnesses had a lot of discrepancies. For instance, they did not say they had spotted the pastor at the scene when recording statements with the police, yet claimed they had when testifying in court.
The televangelist was charged three years ago with dangerous driving after his car crashed head-on into a Nissan March on July 26, 2015 at Manguo area in Limuru, killing Ms Mercy Njeri, who was a passenger in the Nissan.
Witnesses claimed Mr Ng’ang’a was the one behind the wheel, but another man, Mr Simon Kuria, later claimed he had been the one driving. Mr Kuria, a Kenya Police Airwing inspector named Christopher Nzioka, and a police officer named Patrick Baya were the co-accused in the case.
A truck driver told the court that Mr Ng’ang’a’s car had overtaken him at high speed around the Kinungi area of the Nairobi-Naivasha highway. It was heading towards Nairobi, and a man sitting at the back had rolled down his window and was waving other drivers off the road with what looked like a police radio. He said a few minutes later he arrived at the accident scene, where he identified Mr Ng’ang’a.
But Mr Oduor discredited the witness. “After being cross-examined by the accused’s counsel, he said that he had seen the accused in Naivasha, yet at the scene of the accident, he was asking who the occupants of the vehicles (of the cars that were involved in the accidents) were, which was a contradiction,” said the judge, accusing the witness of “either concocting or exaggerating” his testimony.
Another witness said he was at the accident scene five minutes after it had happened. From about 10 metres away, he saw Mr Ng’ang’a, whom he had watched several times preaching on television, climb out of his mangled Range Rover and board a Subaru that sped off towards Nairobi.
A crowd had milled at the scene and was castigating Mr Ng’ang’a “for causing the accident”, said the witness, who requested the court to protect his identity. He took photos of the scene and produced them in court as exhibits.