An invitation to talk about child protection is always a great opportunity and we at Haki Yetu, Gender and law were excited to visit Kikambala Catholic Church that fateful day in 2019. Little did we know that the visit would be the beginning of a 3-year journey to justice for a 12-year-old girl.
Our priority as Haki Yetu during these sessions is always to create a safe platform for children and young adults to share their experiences on child protection and to foster their involvement in the safeguarding initiatives.
During the child protection sessions, there is always vibrancy in the mentorship sessions and the experiences are always refreshing and at times saddening which is quite paradoxical. The visit to Kikambala Catholic Church was not so different. At the end of the session, a 12-year-old girl “Kadzo” approached one of our Gender and Law staff and asked if she could confide in us privately.
Kadzo opened up about being defiled by her step-father whom she used to live with. We advised the minor’s mother to go and report to the police and get medical attention at Mtwapa Health centre for treatment where P3 form and PRC form were filed. Other stakeholders such as Kikambala Rescue centre and Bakhita Rescue Center were of utmost assistance in advancing the case and a charge was drafted and criminal proceedings commenced. Haki Yetu committed to watching brief for the complainant.
During the proceedings, Kadzo shared that the stepfather began grooming her into sexual acts in 2014 and told her not to speak up. The minor narrated that the stepfather would take her from her room to her mother’s room at night to defile her when her mother was at work on the night shift. She described in detail how the defendant began molesting her when she was in std. 3 and penetrated her when she reached Std 6.
A clinical officer from Mtwapa health centre testified and produced PRC form filled for Kadzo indicating perforated hymen. The investigating officer was also present, testified and further produced the P3 form. It was also stated that the incident had been happening since Kadzo was 9 years and that incentives and threats had been given by the perpetrator as is common in many children cases.
During court examination, the Magistrate observed that Kadzo was confident and knowledgeable and gave no reason for her credibility to be put into question. The court found that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt for the offence of defilement contrary to Section 8(3) of the sexual offences Act and accordingly found the defendant guilty of the same and sentenced him to 20 years under Section 215 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Our legal officer watched briefly for the complainant from its genesis to sentencing and shared some of the challenges faced during the criminal proceedings.
There were unnecessary delays from adjournments which resulted in the trial lasting from 2019 to 2021. This caused a lot of anxiety and fatigue to the survivor and her family and this also affected Kadzo’s academic performance and emotional turmoil.
The significance of watching the brief for the complainant stood out in this matter. We applaud the court for recognizing its importance.
We also highlighted the importance of psychosocial support to the survivor as well as the family.
Going forward as an organization we purpose to extend watching brief for complainants as it has proven to be vital in the administration of justice.
We at Haki Yetu are grateful and pleased with the trial court’s outcome and are still present in the now appeal. We appreciate all stakeholders who took a positive part in this journey to justice. We are determined to hold hands and walk with Kadzo and many other children who need a companion to ensure justice prevails.