NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – The matatu driver and tout accused of taking part in the sexual assault of a woman in a matatu in Githurai in September have finally been charged and taken their pleas.
Nicholas Chege and Meshack Mburu pleaded not guilty to two counts of robbery with violence and sexual assault. The robbery charge carries a maximum death penalty.
“On the night of September 19 and 20 at Millenium Petrol Station within Githurai 44 of Kasarani sub-county in Nairobi county, jointly with others not before court unlawfully manipulated your fingers into the genital organs of H.E.W (the victim).”
Chege and Mburu took their pleas after Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Mbugua granted a prosecution application to have the complainant identified simply by her initials on the charge sheet in order to preserve her dignity.
“But this is not a blanket order,” she cautioned. “The trial court will decide for itself how it will proceed.”
Defence counsel Harrison Kinyanjui objected to the use of the complainant’s initials saying his client had the right to face their accuser.
“My clients’ faces have been plastered all over the media and yet remain innocent until proved guilty,” he submitted.
Kinyanjui also sought to have the matatu in which the alleged sexual assault took place, released to its owner David Irungu. An application that was denied by the magistrate after Senior Prosecuting Counsel Duncan Ondimu informed the court that the matatu remains a crime scene.
Mbugua is to rule on Thursday morning if Chege and Mburu will be released on bail.
Ondimu opposed their release on the grounds that they face the death penalty for their crimes. “We intend to seek the maximum penalty.”
He also told the court that Mburu had already confessed to the court that his phone was used to shoot a video of the sexual assault and that one of the accused had been identified in a parade.
In turn, Kinyanjui challenged the reliability of what the complainant told the police happened to her on the night of September 19 and 20. “The complainant’s character is to be impugned,” he said.
Under the robbery with violence charge, Chege and Mburu are accused of stealing the complainants Samsung Galaxy Grand valued at Sh27,000, one bottle of perfume valued at Sh1,500, a clutch purse valued at Sh1,000, a make-up kit valued at Sh2,000 and Sh10,200 in cash.