A police officer was today found guilty and convicted for a 2014 murder of a fisherman in Naivasha.
Police Constable Evans Maliecha Wiyema was on trial for the killing of Moses Kinyanjui Wanyoike on July 27, 2014.
This six-year trial, at the Naivasha High Court, saw a strong case put forward by the prosecution.
Sixteen (16) prosecution witnesses testified before Justice Richard Mwongo who this afternoon found the officer guilty of murder. Maliecha, Anti-Stock Theft Unit officer, was placed on his defence by Justice Richard Mwongo in 2019.
Judge Mwongo in his judgement reiterated that the prosecution had indeed proven beyond reasonable doubt that PC Maliecha, the accused, was the one who shot Wanyoike on July 27, 2014 at Crescent Island in Lake Naivasha. Moreover, the Judge stated that the police officer acted recklessly and was not justified in shooting Wanyoike.
“Given all the foregoing circumstances and my findings, I find and hold that the accused acted with mens rea, recklessly and in violation of the law. His actions were made all the more
unacceptable by the fact that he did not report the incident but instead chose to assist in prosecuting the fishermen. His actions do not add up and do not support the defense of self defense. Ultimately I find the accused guilty of murder and convict him for the same,” the judge ruled.
The judge ordered that the police officer be remanded at Naivasha Prison until April 8, 2021 when he will be sentenced.
International Justice Mission (IJM) represented the victim’s family in the case. IJM Kenya Country Director Benson Shamala said the judgment is a big step in holding errant police officers to account.
“Wanyoike is just one of many young men killed in unclear circumstances that show excessive use of force by police officers. We continue demanding for accountability for any errant police officer who violates the law. Additionally, we call for resourcing of IPOA and Internal Affairs Unit to fast track cases under investigation. It’s worth noting that Wanyoike’s family had to wait for over five years to get justice,” said Shamala.
Maliecha’s conviction comes two years after a senior police officer was convicted and sentenced in the murder of Martin Koome in 2019. The former Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua lost an appeal he had lodged challenging the courts decision in December 2020.
“Today, a momentous judgment has been made. A public servant who misused the power given to him to serve and protect and used it to kill an innocent, poor and defenseless citizen has been convicted for that murder,” said IJM victim Attorney Edward Mbanya.
“Today, a man’s dignity has been restored to him posthumously. Today, several people and families terrorised by the accused police officer have seen the beginning of justice. Today, the justice system has shown Kenyans that there is accountability and that the law should work for all, rich and poor alike and applies to all irrespective of status, rank or belief,” said Mbanya.
Wanyoike’s parents welcomed the judgement calling for a stiffer sentence.
“I feel justice has been served, considering all the time we’ve spent and the frustration we’ve gone through as a family looking for justice,” Joseph Kamau Njenga, the father to Wanyoike, said.
The mother Jane Wanjiku said she wishes the court sentences the officer to life imprisonment “because he also took away the life of my son.”
The parents applauded IJM’s help in pursuing justice for their son, saying the constant counselling, support and helped to bring the officer to book a gave their life a new meaning.
On the day Wanyoike was killed, he and two other fishermen – Johnson Ndichu and Douglas Tutu were fishing at Crescent Island in Lake Naivasha when the officer shot him in the head at close range.
A day before the killing, a sheep belonging to Crescent Island was reported missing.
Maliecha and a colleague allegedly had gone to pursue suspects when they sighted the three fishermen and shot at them, instantly killing Wanyoike.
Following the incident, and in a bid to conceal the truth, the officer charged Johnson and Douglas with theft of a sheep worth Sh10,000.
After learning of their plight and the injustice meted on the two, IJM took on Douglas and Johnson’s case to help bring the correct facts before the court.
A magistrate who analysed the theft of sheep case and acquitted Johnson and Douglas later observed that the evidence was insufficient to prove that they had stolen any sheep.
Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) investigated the killing and forwarded the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who charged the officer with Wanyoike’s murder.
IJM commended the work of IPOA and ODPP during the five years it has taken to complete the trial.
Also Read: Court to issue judgement in a murder of a police officer who shot dead a fisherman