NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – The Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) on Wednesday demanded the immediate arrest of five suspects who last year allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl in Busia.
According to COVAW Programme Officer Alexandra Tindale, even after the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered for the arrest of all six suspects only one was apprehended, leaving the rest scot free.
“The State’s delay in securing justice for Liz (not her real name) after she was gang raped mid last year has become a matter of increasing concern to both the public and the civil society.”
“The DPP in October 2013 ordered for the arrest of the six suspects on the gang rape charges. However, seven months later, little progress has been made at putting the suspects behind bars.”
“In November 2013 following the DPP’s directive, only one of the suspects was arrested and taken to court where he was charged with causing grievous bodily harm.”
“He was later released on bail to allow him sit for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams.”
“During the second hearing on March 24, 2014 the suspect turned up alone in court and asked for more time to find a lawyer to represent him and further adjournment was granted.”
“A third mention was on April 8, 2014. The suspect pleaded not guilty to the charges and the charge sheet was finally amended to include gang rape and the prosecution obtained arrest warrants for all the six.”
“On May 8, 2014 there will be a pre-hearing before the main trial on June 24 but the five have still not been arrested,” Tindale explained.
Tindale explained that the case has taken too long to be determined arguing that the delay has given rise to similar incidents in the area.
She added,” the location of the remaining five suspects is known yet they continue to roam the streets free. Liz and her family have even received threats following the support she has received. There has also been a lot of backlash from the community which has forced us to put her under the witness protection programme.”
Speaking to journalists, the programme officer said that Liz is yet to return to school.
In October, a group of women demanding justice for Liz demonstrated in Nairobi, marching to Police Headquarters at Jogoo House where they hang underwear on the fence as a show of protest.
The placard-carrying women said they were enraged because the police had initially arrested three of the attackers – all aged between 16 and 20 – and only punished them with an order to cut grass at a police station compound.
African Women’s Development and Communication Network Head of Communication Nebila Abdulmelik who was among the demonstrators said they decided to petition police chief David Kimaiyo to act because officers on the ground do not appear committed to get the perpetrators.