For Jeremiah Nandwa, 65, the kind act of bailing out a friend’s son has cost him his freedom, money and threatens to take away his land.
Mr Nandwa’s woes date back to 2017 when a childhood friend pleaded with him to help release his 17-year-old son on bond.
The boy, who had been charged with defiling a 12-year-old Standard Six pupil in Kaptembwa Estate, Nakuru County, was set for release on a bond of Sh400,000 with a surety of similar amount.
Mr Nandwa, a retired civil servant, agreed to help. He gave out the title deed of his family land as security in exchange of the suspect’s freedom.
Little did he know that his kind action would torment him for years to come.
The suspect promptly went into hiding. “I tried tracing him through the mobile number he had given me in vain. Even his parents could not locate his whereabouts,” said Mr Nandwa.
A few days later the girl also went missing. The minor’s parents claimed that the move was a conspiracy to defeat justice.
Human rights groups joined the fray, turning Mr Nandwa’s life into a nightmare. The court ordered that Mr Nandwa’s surety be forfeited for failure to produce the suspect.
“I was sent to Nakuru GK Prison remand for four months for failing to produce the suspect,” said Mr Nandwa. He was released on a Sh500,000 bond.
The bond was suspended for five days two weeks later following pressure from the girl’s parents who accused him of hiding the court file.
“Ironically, the file had been taken by the judge for perusal but the parents would hear none of that. So, the magistrate sent me back to prison for five days until the file was returned,” he said.
Later, details emerged that the suspect and the minor were living together in Bungoma County. “I facilitated the investigating officer and two police officers to travel to Bungoma where the two were arrested. The girl was heavily pregnant,” said Mr Nandwa.
The father of four was however shocked when the suspect denied being the bonded person.
The court directed the police to investigate the suspect’s fingerprints but the report presented by the investigating officer, Ms Eunice Mwololo, indicated that he was not the suspect.
Mr Nandwa maintained that he was the same person he bonded. However, the court found Mr Nandwa guilty of contempt and fined him Sh20,000 or six months imprisonment in default.
“After paying the fine I thought that all was over, until February 22 when I was hit by another shocking development,” he recalled.
He appeared in court hoping to be given back his titled deed but the court fined him another Sh400,000 or six months jail term in default. He could not raise the amount.
Justice Joel Ngugi freed him on a free bond pending hearing and determination of an application he filed before the High Court for review of the jail term.
When the Nation caught up with him he was still following up on the matter. He felt bitter about the issue which has caused him and his family a lot of anguish.
“I have lost time and money and still cannot tell when the case will end,” he said.