The 80-year-old woman who had been sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly gouging out the eyes of her grandson has been acquitted by the Court of Appeal.
Rael Mayaka had appealed against her conviction and sentence, arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove that she was responsible for the horrific attack on Baby Sagini, who was three years old at the time.
On Friday, February 2, 2024, Justice Kiarie Waweru overturned the lower court’s decision and set Ms Mayaka free, citing lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses.
“There is no direct evidence linking the appellant to the commission of the offence. The circumstantial evidence relied upon by the prosecution was weak and insufficient to sustain a conviction,” the judge said.
He added that the prosecution had not established the motive or the opportunity for Ms Mayaka to harm her grandson, who was living with her at their home in Ikuruma, Marani sub-county.
The judge also noted that the medical report did not indicate the nature of the instrument used to gouge out the boy’s eyes, or the time when the injury occurred.
He further observed that the boy’s mother, Ms Dorcas Kwamboka, and his cousin, Mr Alex Maina, who were the key witnesses, had given contradictory accounts of what happened on the night of December 13, 2022, when the incident took place.
Ms Kwamboka had claimed that she left her son with Ms Mayaka and Mr Maina at around 9 pm, and returned at around 11 pm to find him bleeding profusely from his eyes. She accused Ms Mayaka of being a witch and of harming her son out of jealousy.
However, Mr Maina had testified that he was not at home that night, and that he only learned of the incident the following morning. He said he had no reason to suspect Ms Mayaka of any wrongdoing, and that she loved her grandson dearly.
The judge said that the discrepancies between the two witnesses cast doubt on their credibility, and that the prosecution had not produced any other independent or corroborating evidence to support their allegations.
He also said that the trial court had erred in relying on the evidence of a police officer, who had testified that Ms Mayaka had confessed to the crime during interrogation. The judge said that the confession was not recorded or signed, and that it was not clear whether Ms Mayaka had been informed of her rights or had legal representation.
He said that the confession was therefore inadmissible, and that it was possible that Ms Mayaka had been coerced or induced to make it.
The judge concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, and that Ms Mayaka was entitled to the benefit of the doubt. He quashed her conviction and sentence, and ordered her immediate release.
Ms Mayaka, who had been in custody since her arrest in December 2022, broke down in tears as the verdict was delivered. She thanked the judge and her lawyers for securing her freedom, and said that she had forgiven those who had accused her falsely.
She also expressed her sympathy for her grandson, who had lost his sight permanently as a result of the attack. She said that she hoped that he would recover from the trauma and lead a normal life.
“I love him very much, and I would never hurt him. He is my blood, and I pray for him every day. I hope that one day he will understand that I am not his enemy, but his grandmother,” she said.
Baby Sagini, who is now five years old, is currently under the care of his father, Mr James Sagini, who had separated from Ms Kwamboka before the incident. Mr Sagini said that he was disappointed by the court’s decision, and that he believed that Ms Mayaka was guilty.
He said that he would not allow her to see his son again, and that he would seek justice for him by other means.
“I don’t care what the court says. She did it, and she knows it. She is a wicked woman, and she deserves to rot in jail. She has ruined my son’s life, and I will never forgive her. I will make sure that she pays for what she did,” he said.
By Cassidy 02.02.2022