Republic v Alfred Kipkemoi Yator [2019] eKLR

Muriithi, J

Kenya’s Judge Edward Muriithi presided in a trial where one brother was charged with killing another brother by shooting him with a bow and arrow during a fight. He pleaded guilty and was convicted of manslaughter. But what about sentence? The family of the dead man asked the court to impose a non-custodial sentence. They said they had met, discussed the matter and decided forgiveness was the best course, followed by a cleansing ritual once the remaining brother returned home. They preferred this solution so that he could continue earning a living to sustain the families of both brothers.

Sentencing the man to five years imprisonment, the judge commented:

After agonising on the suitable punishment, the court is unable to accept the recommendation for probation sentence. It is all very understandable that the family of the deceased are not willing to lose the remaining son through incarceration, and hence the quick forgiveness for the accused.

(However) the agreement of the family members … only serves their private interest to have the alleged breadwinner return home. (Releasing the offending brother) with, as it were, only a slap on his arrow-wielding wrist (would be) wholly disproportionate to the serious offence of manslaughter.

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*Newsletter, Judicial Institute for African (Jifa), 6 September 2019