Couple’s agony in hunt for justice, missing niece - Daily Nation

Couple’s hunt for justice after niece defiled, goes missing

Saturday June 16 2018

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A court in Makueni sentenced a man to 80 years in prison for defiling his step-daughter. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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By MERCY KOSKEY
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Mr JM, a newspaper vendor in Nakuru town, can easily be mistaken for a regular litigant because of his frequent appearances in the Nakuru Law Courts.

For six months, Mr JM and his wife, Ms JK, have been common figures in the court in their pursuit for justice for their 12-year-old-niece who was under their custody when she was defiled and later disappeared.

The last two years have been the most agonising for the couple’s married life.

The two have suffered a double tragedy after their niece who was defiled by a neighbour disappeared and the suspect also went missing, derailing the case.

The minor was allegedly defiled in 2016 by their neighbour, Mr Zephaniah Musungu.

Mr JM went into hiding after the alleged incident but was later arrested and charged with defilement. After denying the charges, he was released on Sh500,000 bond.

This was just but the beginning of the couple’s tribulations. 

After his release on bond last year, Mr JM went into hiding again and police are yet to trace his whereabouts.

Days after the suspect fled the area, the minor also went missing.

The couple says they have looked everywhere for their niece but their efforts have been in vain.

“Whenever there is a mention of the case in court, I find myself spending the entire day following up the matter but it ends up being adjourned. This has negatively affected my work,” says Mr JM.

The man says he has tried following up with the police to know the progress of their search for his missing niece and the defilement suspect but gets disappointed every time.

“The police usually tell me to wait for the report in court as they are still carrying out investigations,” he says.

For Ms JK, the thought of losing her sister’s child is almost driving her crazy.

The woman, a waiter at a local restaurant, says it has been hard to focus on her work.

“I am unable concentrate on anything. I have had serious problems with my employer as I found myself distracted by the incident. I also find it difficult eating and cannot sleep comfortably,” she said

Mr JM says the took in the girl three years ago from her grandmother where she and her siblings sought refuge after her father allegedly ejected them from their home in Kakamega County.

They enrolled her at a local school where she was doing well in her studies and had reached Standard Three.

Ms JK recalls she returned home from work on November 15, 2017 to find the girl was not at home and that no one knew where she had gone to.

After searching for her in vain, Ms JK says they then reported to the police that her niece was missing.

The defilement case against Mr Musungu has now dragged on for more than six months as police continue hunt for the suspect.

Efforts by the court to find the suspect saw the person who bailed him out, Mr Jeremiah Nandwa, arrested and held in custody for a month to assist police with investigations.

Chief Magistrate Bernard Mararo ordered Mr Nandwa to produce the suspect so that the case can proceed.

The family is now calling for the police to speed up efforts to trace their missing child and the suspect.

“We want to see justice served for the child,” said the couple.

The case is slated for mention on July 5.