Man about town

Adet: Magistrate who raised funds to feed the accused

adet

Mombasa Resident Magistrate Vincent Adet. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Summary

  • According to Mr Adet, he released the duo on humanitarian grounds, especially for the woman.
  • After setting the couple free, he went into his pocket and removed Sh1,000 and asked advocates, litigants and other people in the courtroom to contribute.
  • After the fundraiser, the magistrate told the couple that their "sins had been forgiven". He set them free and advised them not to repeat the offence.

Magistrates are known to be tough, no-nonsense individuals with a sharp and commanding voice.

Not many of them are known to crack jokes in court or send litigants and advocates to bursts of laughter. In fact, the judicial officers say little and choose to speak their minds through their judgments or rulings.

It is the same with Mombasa senior resident magistrate Vincent Adet, who this week hit the news after leading an impromptu fundraiser in aid of a couple that had been brought before him charged with stealing a bale of wheat flour.

Mr Adet is known to be quiet and serious while presiding over cases. A few days earlier, the magistrate had placed two police officers in the dock for failing to bring witnesses for the hearing of a case.

The police officers were forced to stand with accused persons as the magistrate sought an explanation over their failure to ‘bond’ witnesses. He released them after a stern warning.

The plight of Saumu Ali and Evans Odhiambo, however, elicited a different reaction from Mr Adet. The couple pleaded guilty to the charge and asked to be pardoned. The woman was in tears, as she narrated why she stole the flour.

The magistrate asked for a probation report on the couple, which he considered while setting them free.

According to Mr Adet, he released the duo on humanitarian grounds, especially for the woman.

“I have considered the circumstances of the offence and I sympathise with her situation. With three kids under her care, and no source of income, I am of the view that let us buy her a bale of wheat flour and some meat for today,” he said.

After setting the couple free, he went into his pocket and removed Sh1,000 and asked advocates, litigants and other people in the courtroom to contribute.

After the fundraiser, the magistrate told the couple that their "sins had been forgiven". He set them free and advised them not to repeat the offence.

The probation report showed that the couple had no source of income and did menial jobs.

The report stated that Mr Odhiambo is a casual labourer within the vicinity of Shimanzi area, where he swept and washed lorries.

The 29-year-old dropped out of class seven due to financial challenges.

The court heard that the couple did not intentionally steal the flour but thought it had been discarded.

On the material day, Mr Odhiambo explained that he was undertaking his usual duties of cleaning the transportation vehicles belonging to Grain Industries when he spotted the wheat flour. He took it thinking that it had been thrown away by the owners.

“I then got arrested later on with the accusation of having stolen the said item,” he said

The woman explained that she had been called by the husband to help carry a bale of flour from the lorry, which she did before they placed the items aside at a distance.

Sh1,980 price

“I did not know what happened thereafter but was shocked after the police came to arrest us. My husband pleaded with the police not to arrest me since I was not involved but they proceeded to handcuff me,” said the woman.

Ms Ali and Mr Odhiambo were charged with stealing contrary to Section 268 as read with Section 275 of the penal code.

The charge sheet reads that particulars on April 13, at Shimanzi area in Mvita sub county, they stole a bale of wheat flour valued at Sh1,980 from Grain Industries Ltd.

The magistrate said he was very sympathetic with the couple’s situation and freed them.

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