Peter Clottey —Voice Of America—30 June 2010
“We are going to get our vuvuzelas and play them so loud they (the lawmakers) will not be heard. If the Chief Justice still does not give us our bench, then we are going to have mass action against the judiciary,” Okia Omtata
The executive director of Kenyans for Democracy and Justice, a political pressure group, has described as illegal the unanimous decision by legislators to increase their monthly salaries scheduled to take effect Thursday.
Okia Omtata said Kenyans are outraged after members of parliament passed a report Wednesday raising their salaries from Sh851, 000 ($10,411.82) to Sh1.1 million ($13,455.76).
“We don’t believe that the parliament has the power to appoint a committee, meaning that committee becomes an independent committee to look into their salaries. So, what they are doing is they have appointed consultants whom they pay to fix their salaries. And, that is not acceptable, (and) it is against the law of Kenya,” he said.
The increase comes ahead of the referendum that will pave way for the implementation of Kenya’s new constitution. Experts say the new constitution stipulates that members of parliament will not be able to arbitrarily increase their own salaries.
Legislators adopted the Akiwumi report that was tabled in parliament Wednesday by the parliamentary service commission proposing an increase in lawmakers’ salaries before they could agree to have their allowances taxed.
Local media reports that Kenya’s treasury will have to look for funds to pay for the increased salaries. The legislators are reportedly ready to endorse three bills aimed to ensure they are paid their increased salaries.
But, Omtata said his organization will continue to oppose what he described as an illegal act.
“We are going to get our vuvuzelas and play them so loud they (the lawmakers) will not be heard. If the Chief Justice still does not give us our bench, then we are going to have mass action against the judiciary, so that we are heard and that case is determined as an important constitutional case that touches on the very soul of the Republic of Kenya,” Omtata said.
Walter Nyambati, vice chairman of Kenya’s parliamentary service commission, was quoted as saying, “Human nature is that employers want to pay less to their employees, while the employees want more to justify the work done. We need to balance these two. It will be unjust to reduce the remuneration of MPs half-way through their (five-year) contract.”
A group of civil society groups sharply protested a similar pay increase in 2007. In a statement the group said Kenyan “lawmakers had shown a great deal of greed in the past, increasing their salaries whimsically and constantly awarding themselves hefty payoffs at the expense of the Kenyan taxpayers.”
Executive director Omtata said that legislators need to be stopped by any means necessary after accusing them of continuing to insult the intelligence of Kenyans by repeatedly flouting the constitution with impunity.
“You, as an employee, cannot fix your own salary. They are employees of Kenya and they cannot be fixing their own salaries. It’s a major principle. Even the president’s salary is not fixed by the president. It is fixed differently. But, the MPs fix their own salaries and that is where the problem is,” Omtata said.
Posted Saturday, June 26 2010 at 18:48
A Catholic priest has been accused of raping a schoolgirl only minutes after giving her bananas and oranges for her sick mother in hospital and praying for her.
The priest, who was serving at Gekano Parish in Kisii Diocese in November last year when the incident
reportedly occurred, then tried to swear the 16-year-old girl to secrecy with a promise of education.
A senior administrator in the diocese, also a priest, confirmed that a complaint had reached the bishop’s office over the matter, and said investigations were ongoing.
But the girl’s family suspects a cover-up plot, citing the fact that the accused priest has since been moved from the diocese and the conduct of another priest who later visited their home to collect the clothes worn by the girl at the time she was allegedly raped.
The family has also accused the police of inaction even though they reported the matter to the Keroka police station.
The Class Seven girl is said to have gone to the priest’s house to return the plastic bag in which she carried the fruit to her mother who was at St Elizabeth Gekano health centre about 70 metres from where he lived.
The woman had been admitted with malaria on November 23 last year, and her daughter was taking care of her.
The priest visited the sick woman to pray with her between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. the following day.
“After praying he asked me if I had taken any food, but I said that I had no appetite. He asked me if I would take some bananas and oranges.
“He said that he had some fruits in his house which he wished to give to me. I accepted. But the priest instructed my daughter to make sure that she returned the plastic bag,” the mother told the Sunday Nation this week.
“Within a short time the girl had brought a bunch of bananas and two oranges. I ate one and gave one to the nurse,” she said.
The mother of six said that after removing the fruit her daughter returned the bag to the priest’s house as instructed.
“She stayed there for long, and I started getting worried where she was. She was supposed to go home and prepare lunch for her siblings, and yet the keys for the house were on my bed,” the mother said.
“She did not come back and instead went straight home. In the evening I decided to leave hospital and go home and asked her why she returned without taking the keys, but she kept quiet.”
She said the following day her daughter opened up and told her what had happened.
“While in the house he asked me why my parents were always fighting, but I kept quiet,” the girls said. “He then asked me to allow him touch my breast, but I declined again as I got frightened.”
She said the priest forced himself on her, tore her clothes and then defiled her. The girl said the priest then promised to assist her to pursue her education and warned her not to disclose to any person what happened as people would laugh at him.
Veronica Ogato, a nurse at the health centre, said she, too, suspected that something bad had happened. She recalled that when the priest came she was attending to the mother of the victim.
“He came in, greeted us all and prayed, then he left with the girl,” she said. The nurse said she grew worried when the girl stayed for long in the priest’s house as the mother was complaining
By Joseph Lister Nyaringo-NJ -USA 06/27/10
First of all, the idea of having Diasporans vote in the coming referendum is a right and not a privilege. However, many factors make Dr. Abonyo’s injunction a perfect move coming at an imperfect time.
Number one, the referendum is at the corner and putting mechanisms (logistics) in order for all Kenyans scattered in the Diaspora to register and vote is a tedious exercise which cannot be accomplished in one month. This means postponing the referendum and Remember, the latest ruling that paved the way for the registration of prisoners and remandees has put the IIEC in a quandary. The issue of Diasporans has added insult to injury.
Many Kenyans will ask where were those behind the latest move only to emerge at the eleventh hour when the matter was not raised early enough for logistics to be put in place by the IIEC for the exercise to succeed. It’s unrealistic to fix modalities in one month to allow Kenyans to vote from the Diaspora when we’re scattered throughout the globe.
Number two, we in the Diaspora don’t want to be seen as part and parcel of those who want to scuttle or delay the country from getting a new law. If anything, the enshrinement of duo citizenship in the proposed law is one of the aspects that will address the concern of many Kenyans who have sought citizenship in other countries that will enable them to vote in future elections. Think about it, the latest injunction coming too late does not build our credibility at all since we are now compared to the no camp.
Number three, the personalities (proxies) who filed the injunction on behalf of Dr. Abonyo represent a group of Kenyans fighting tooth and nail to have the referendum postponed. That is why as a Diasporian, will never be party to Dr. Abonyo’s court injunction. His friend, Mr. Okiya Omtata has proved to be very ambiguous, incredible and a political wobbler since the referendum debate commenced.
I don’t want to sound harsh but we need to be privy with some idlers in Kenya who purport to champion for the rights our right when their primary goal is either publicity or economic gains. Furthermore, some in the civil society love to see the Country swim disorder because they fear that comprehensive reforms will make it elusive for them to attract funding from donors.
Number four, I may not cast my vote from abroad but I have family members, friends and relatives whom I could advise based on what I have read in the proposed law and how important it is for them to exercise their democratic right to vote for or against the new law t that will consequently shape the destiny of our motherland.
Finally, I’m not dismissing Dr. Abonyo’ s idea but I believe such move required consultation and consensus building amongst Kenyans in the Diaspora in this critical stage of our national rebirth because the injunction encompasses all Kenyans living abroad from the thinnest, Monaco to the most populous China. Therefore, I vehemently deny that I will never be part of this latest scheme whose primary metaphor is either to delay or deny the Country from realizing a new constitution.
In prosperity our friends knows us; in adversity we know our friends. John Churton Collins
Thursday, June 24, 2010
A Kenyan immigrant caught in a scheme to steal from nursing-home patients with dementia was sentenced Thursday to a year in Jackson County Jail.
Philip G. Macharia, 30, of Inkster, was sentenced on two counts of possessing documents for identity theft. He will receive credit for 262 days already served in jail since his Oct. 5 arrest.
He was arrested after a Blackman Township Public Safety Officer found credit cards and copies of driver licenses, Social Security cards and insurance cards in his car.
The documents belonged to several residents of the Grandhaven Living Center in Lansing.
Intended victims were easy targets because they were not capable of noticing or stopping identity theft. Many had dementia, and three died in the eight months since Macharia was arrested.
Documents were evidently stolen by a female employee of the nursing home, and she quickly disappeared. Macharia claims his role was to deliver the documents to people who would use them to drain bank accounts and make fraudulent credit-card charges.
“My client does not have the skill set to do what needed to be done,” said defense attorney Al Brandt. “It’s a classic case of the low man who’s left holding the bag.”
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson delivered the sentence after Macharia asked for forgiveness.
“I realize I made a mistake and what I did was very wrong,” said Macharia. That was his first admission of guilt. Last month he pleaded no contest, neither an admission nor denial of guilt.
By Karen A. Kapsourakis/ For the Item—06/23/10
A Lawrence Superior Court jury found Patrick Waweru, 31, guilty by means of premeditated murder with atrocity and cruelty after deliberating for about three and a half hours Tuesday.
Waweru, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, was immediately sentenced to the mandatory punishment under the law for first-degree murder – life behind bars – by Judge Richard E. Welch, III.
After listening to testimony for five days, the jury comprised of six women and seven men got the case around 11 a.m. after lawyers made their closing arguments. They reached a decision shortly before 2:30 p.m.
In addition to the murder charge, jurors also decided he was guilty on five other charges, including home invasion, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, reckless child endangerment and armed assault with intent to murder. Jurors acquitted him on a second count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
In addition to the life sentence, Waweru also received a sentence of 20 to 22 years on the home invasion, 10 to 15 years on the armed assault with intent to murder, another eight to 10 years on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a year in the House of Corrections for child endangerment, but all those sentences will run simultaneously together with the 20- to 22-year prison term, instead of one after the other.Waweru and Kinyanjui became estranged when Kinyanjui and their two children, along with Kinyanjui’s mother, moved from Massachusetts to Newark, Del.
Waweru, also known as “Mwangi,” who last lived at 4 Kingsley Ter., called Kinyanjui a few days before the Oct. 15 murder and lured her on false pretenses to come back to Massachusetts for a court hearing involving the apartment they once shared in Peabody.
She drove to Massachusetts with their two children and her mother on the night of Oct. 13 and went to her sister’s home at 130 Adams St.
Waweru met up with Kinyanjui the day before the attack and again on Oct. 15 at his Kingsley Terrace apartment where he apparently held her there until she convinced him to take her back to her sister’s home, promising him she would get all her possessions in Delaware and move back to Massachusetts with him.
In the meantime, Waweru apparently became suspicious and forced his way into the home as the woman fought to keep the door shut.
Waweru kicked open the door, as he held a two foot-long board and a knife strapped to one of his legs.
He first lunged at Kinyanjui’s sister Margaret, striking her on the head with the board, yelling “I have to kill Esther.”
Then he struck Kinyanjui and one of his children with the board, but then dropped it.
Kinyanjui’s mother, Ruth Nyamu, 57, jumped onto Waweru’s back as he pulled the knife and began repeatedly stabbing Kinyanjui in the neck before fleeing to his East Lynn apartment, where he attempted suicide by medication overdose before police arrested him. Kinyanjui, who spent her childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, sustained more that 20 stab wounds to her neck, chest, back and arms.
The couple had been involved in a relationship for approximately six years in which Waweru had physically abused and threatened Kinyanjui throughout their relationship, according to reports.
Assistant District Attorney Kate B. MacDougall argued at trial that Waweru knew exactly what he was doing when he committed the murder, planned and carried it out and acted with cruelty and atrocity during the commission of the crime.
Defense lawyer Russell C. Sobelman never disputed the fact that his client committed the fatal stabbing. He focused his defense on diminished capacity and corroborated his theory with a number of medical expert witnesses.
Waweru, who did not take the stand in his own defense, had a past history of mental health issues.
The trial will be appealed to a higher court.
Waweru has been held without bail since his arraignment and has 985 days credit.
Sunday, 20 Jun 2010,
MINNEAPOLIS – After arriving in Kenya, Peter Erlinder thanked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for helping secure his release, but for the family of this local law professor, the release will not truly be complete until he gets home. For Masako Usuee, wife of Erlinder, things got even more surreal Thursday. She was in New York, working with the U.N. to secure Erlinder’s release, when she got a voicemail from Erlinder.
But Erlinder, who was freed from a prison in Rwanda-based on medical grounds, almost got held up at the airport before finally boarding a plane to Kenya.
Erlinder, who was jailed in Rwanda for defending alleged leaders of the 1994 genocide, spoke to reporters after arriving in Kenya. He remains committed to his rights as an attorney, while faulting the U.S. embassy for doing little to help while he slept on a concrete floor.
“Without food, without medical attention, without blanket, and without the assistance of my embassy to get those things,” said Erlinder.
Erlinder did imply he feared taking food from Rwandan authorities, but would not comment on claims he attempted suicide in prison.
Masako won’t believe her husband is OK until she sees him in person.
Usuee expects her husband could be back in the Twin Cities as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, with plans to go to then go to the Mayo Clinic for treatment. Erlinder says he will return to Rwanda to face charges if ordered to do so.
He and his family are of course hoping the case is dropped.
June 19, 2010
A Kenyan national who used to live in Worcester was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court to 81 months in prison for being part of a scheme to secure more than $600,000 in unemployment benefits.
From about March 2006 through June 2008, the defendant, Peter Mwangi, 35, formerly of 2 Delldale St., registered 11 fictitious employers with the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance and filed hundreds of fraudulent claims in the names of supposed former employees of these businesses, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower. He used his own identity as well as identities of other people, living and dead, to make the claims.
The state mailed benefit checks to numerous addresses that Mr. Mwangi controlled. He cashed the checks or deposited them into bank accounts, receiving $612,913 in bogus unemployment benefits over two years.
In June 2007, the defendant applied for and received a U.S. passport using another man’s name, Social Security number, birth date and other information. The passport bearing Mr. Mwangi’s photo but the other man’s information was seized in September 2008 in a search of Mr. Mwangi’s storage unit in Webster.
Mr. Mwangi, who previously had been ordered removed from the country, was taken into administrative custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June 2008. Yesterday, he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 36 months of supervision upon release from his sentence of 6 years and 9 months.
Mr. Mwangi was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and full restitution. He pleaded guilty in December to three counts of mail fraud, passport fraud and aggravated identity theft.
BBCAfrica— Friday, 18 June 2010
“The deaths occurred over the past 12 days, with nine of them occurring over the past 24 hours,” said a provincial health spokesperson.
Some 60 boys have been rescued from 11 initiation schools which have since been closed.
Circumcision is seen as a rite of passage into manhood in some South African communities.
The practice is common among the Xhosa and Ndebele communities.
However, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini wants it reintroduced among the Zulu people because of reports that medical circumcision can reduce the chances of getting HIV.
The rescued boys have been taken to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.
“All 60 of them have septic wounds and are dehydrated,” said Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo, reports Sapa news agency.
“Four of the boys even need their genitals removed completely, as it could result in death if it’s not. We are just waiting for consent from their parents to perform the procedures.”
Prosecution problemsIllegal initiation schools have become common in the Eastern Cape, especially in rural areas.
Unregistered surgeons often set them up as a way of making money, says the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.
Earlier this week, seven under-aged initiates were rescued from an illegal initiation school run by a 55-year-old unregistered traditional surgeon who had been arrested several times for the offence.
“He was recently given a three-year suspended sentence but he continued doing the same thing. In the past five years, close to 20 initiates died in his schools and 15 had their penises amputated,” said the Eastern Cape health department.
Health department officials are meeting the police, members of the justice department and prosecutors to discuss the prosecution of those contravening the Traditional Circumcision Act, which regulates the custom in the province, according to Sapa.
“The major problem is that parents are reluctant to prosecute illegal traditional surgeons who sometimes force their children into circumcision at a very young age,” Mr Kupelo said.
“We identify the perpetrators, but if parents are not willing to open cases against them, they are freed and continue illegally circumcising and killing these boys.”
Most initiations are either done in June-July or November-December.
Last year, 91 initiates died and hundreds were hospitalised in the province.
Science and environment reporter, BBC News Two primate species were among the seizures of bushmeat by customs
About 270 tonnes of illegal bushmeat could be passing through one of Europe’s busiest airports each year, the first study of its kind estimates.
A team of researchers says the illicit trade could pose a risk to human or animal health and increase the demand for meat from threatened species.
The figure is based on seizures from searches carried out over 17 days at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
The findings appear in the journal Conservation Letters.
A team of researchers from France, Cambodia and the UK said it was the “first systematic study of the scale and nature of this international trade”.
“We estimate that about five tonnes of bushmeat per week is smuggled in personal baggage through Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport,” they wrote.
During the 17-day study, a total of 134 passengers arriving on 29 flights from 14 African nations were searched.
Nine people were found to be carrying bushmeat, which had a combined mass of 188kg.
In total, 11 species were found – including two types of primates, two kinds of crocodiles and three rodent species – four of which were listed as protected species.
Co-author Marcus Rowcliffe from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) explained why the international team of researchers decided to carry out the research.
Only a small proportion of Africa’s bushmeat is exported
“As no study like this had been carried out before, we really had no idea as to the volume of bushmeat coming into airports,” he told BBC News.
“It was a surprise when we saw how much was arriving.”
The products were not only imported for personal consumption, but were part of a lucrative organised trade with high prices indicating luxury status, Dr Rowcliffe added.
“A 4kg monkey will cost around 100 euros (£84), compared with just five euros in Cameroon,” he said.
Based on the data gathered from the 29 flights covered by the study, the researchers then calculated the weekly and annual inward flow of bushmeat.
“Assuming that (the study’s) rates are representative of the average weekly rate over the year, this equates to… 273 tonnes of bushmeat,” they calculated.
The team suggested that there were likely to be a number of factors behind the large volume of bushmeat being imported.
“First, detecting and seizing these products is not a priority,” they explained.
“Second, penalties for importing illegal meat or fish are low and rarely imposed. Third, the rewards for transporting bushmeat are potentially high.”
The researchers acknowledged that the study had a short time scale and limited geographical coverage, and said that a longer and large scale survey was now required to build on the findings.
However, they added that their study did allow them to consider ways to control the trade.
They suggest offering incentives to customs officers, increasing the penalties for illegally importing the products and raising awareness among passengers that bringing such products into the EU was prohibited.
The team concluded: “The large scale of current imports makes it important to consider all options for reducing the flow of illegal meat and fish, and of bushmeat in particular.”