A 23-year-old Meru man escaped rape charges after Facebook chats showed he and the complainant were lovers.
Meru chief magistrate Lucy Ambasi acquitted Timothy Syengo Mutua and set him free on Thursday. He had been accused of raping his best friend Phyllis Kasyoka in Imenti North, Meru county in 2017. Kasyoka who was 18 then.
In her judgment, Ambasi said Mutua has been framed because there was no evidence linking the suspect to the crime. She said the Facebook chats between the accused and the alleged victim and evidence by witnesses proved that.
Syengo, the third born to the family of Mutua Mwangangi and Monica Mutua from Tseikuru in Kitui, who was accompanied by his elder brother Sylvester Kilyungi, was overwhelmed after being set free.
He said the criminal case had wasted his time, money and derailed him from his life goals.
“I think I will forgive her. I was so much stressed during the trial. It is upon the court and the police to do whatever they think is rightful to the complainant. I thank God I’m free from the framed case,” Syengo said, as tears of joy dropped from his eyes.
The prosecution had also charged him with an alternative charge of an indecent act.
Syengo’s then employer Antony Musembi told the court the two were lovers. He said he had known the lady through social media and especially Facebook. The Facebook communication between the two, which was given as evidence in court, eventually saved Syengo.
“She refers to him as swiry, always cute, my love, penda wewe sana,” Musembi testified, adding that the two had exchanged numbers.
The magistrate said these are some of words used by young people who are in a relationship.
The court had granted Syengo a bond of Sh100, 000 or a cash bail of Sh50, 000. He failed to raise the money and spent six months in remand until the court reviewed the amount to Sh5,000 because of a positive probation report.
The court recommended that Kasyoka be charged for lying under oath and to the police.
At one time, Syengo was sentenced to 30 minutes for laughing while the complainant was testifying.
Magistrate Ambasi said this is one of many cases in which young men are languishing in Kenyan jails for being framed. She said there is a need for a review of the Sexual Offences Act enacted in 2006.
The Act was proposed by Supreme Court judge Njoki Ndung’u, then a nominated MP. It set stiffer penalties for men found guilty of engaging in sexual relations with girls below 18.
Kasyoka, who had finished her KCSE last year, had told the court she had gone to buy milk when she did not know called her name. She claimed a man, she identified as Syengo, asked her if there was electricity at home so that she can charge his phone.
She alleged that he gave her a soft drink and she passed out. Kasyoka said she woke up at 4am and found herself naked and her private parts wet.
She reported to her brother and she was taken to Meru Level 5 Hospital. They wrote statements at Meru police station and the accused was arrested and charged.
The court dismissed the complainant’s argument about being drugged, saying there was no evidence to back the claims. Ambasi said there was no urine or blood tests to prove her allegations.
Syengo testified that he knew Kasyoka since 2010. He said Kasyoka’s brother only identified as Tom and another person accosted him and beat him up. He said he was threatened with dire consequences after learning that he had an affair with his sister.
“I was rescued by neighbours. I was taken to the police. They filed defilement charges and later rape. I did not spoil Kasyoka who was my ‘bestie’ and we were dating from high school but we haven’t had sex,” he said.
“We were planning to marry afterwards. I swear to this court I didn’t have sex with her. These are framed up charges. My uncle Titus Musyoka was in the house the whole night. Tom, [the complainant’s brother] told me he would ‘onyesha me adabu,'”Syengo testified.
The court trashed the doctor’s report which contradicted itself. The P3 Form indicated the victim was raped on November 22, 2017, while the post-rape care form shows she engaged in sex in August 2017.
– The Star/ Gerald Muthethia