Family pleads for help as new execution date set for Kenyan jailed in Saudi

Piece by: GORDON OSEN
News

• When Principal Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Korir Sing’oei, last addressed the issue in a lengthy X post, he expressed gratitude for the postponement of the execution.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing'oei with Dorothy Kweyu, the mother of Stephen on May 14, 2024.
Image: PS KORIR SING'OEI/X

Since May 13, the family of Stephen Munyakho, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, has been anxiously awaiting formal communication about the new date of his execution.

When Principal Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Korir Sing’oei, last addressed the issue in a lengthy X post, he expressed gratitude for the postponement of the execution.

Although Munyakho informed his mother, veteran journalist Dorothy Kweyu, of a new date—July 27—she is concerned that she has not received any formal confirmation. Despite her gratitude for her son’s continued life, the uncertainty remains distressing for Kweyu and her family.

"It is a numbing anxiety that I have to endure every day and night, so much so that whenever a strange call comes in, I fear it could be bearing bad news," she told the Star in a follow-up interview.

Sources close to the family indicate that while the date has not been fully confirmed, it is highly likely that the Yemeni family, whose relative was allegedly killed by Munyakho, had settled on the July date.

Munyakho, described by his mother as harmless, gentle, and peaceful all his life, is alleged to have been involved in a fight with a colleague in the latter’s office on April 9, 2011, in the oil-rich Middle East country. Munyakho, then a 50-year-old warehouse manager, got into a fatal altercation with Yemeni national Abdul Halim Mujahid Makrad Saleh. Saleh, who was stabbed in the left thigh and thumb, walked himself to a hospital where he later died.

In October 2011, a Saudi Arabian court convicted Munyakho of manslaughter, but a Shariah court later upgraded the charge to murder in June 2014. Since then, Munyakho has been imprisoned in various Saudi facilities.

Under Sharia law, Munyakho faces execution by beheading. The execution was delayed because one of the victim’s sons was a minor and had to reach the age of majority to give consent as per Shariah law.

The execution was initially set for May 13 but was postponed following diplomatic engagements by government officials.

In 2019, after negotiations, the Yemeni family agreed to blood money amounting to 10 million riyals (approximately Sh352.2 million). Further negotiations reduced the amount to 3.5 million riyals (approximately Sh123 million) last November. However, the family rejected the SAR231,685 (equivalent to Sh8 million) offered during renegotiations.

Kweyu noted that since the government, through PS Sing'oei, indicated state

intervention to bring Munyakho home, their crowdfunding efforts have stalled.

"Maybe it’s because people feel the state will pick up the blood money bill, hence the slump in fundraising efforts by the public," she said.

"But this is an impossible sum. I plead with fellow Kenyans to help me save my son from the sword in the foreign land. Every amount counts," she urged.

The government has stated that it does not have a budget for blood money and that Munyakho’s case is unprecedented.

"We did not factor it into the current budget," Kweyu was told.

She emphasizes that the focus of well-wishers and friends should remain on raising a substantial sum to renegotiate with the Yemeni family.

"Please don’t give up or feel complacent that we have passed the danger zone. We are still counting on your help. We are counting on every coin so that the dreaded day does not become a reality. Help us bring Stevo home," Kweyu pleaded.

For those willing to contribute, the paybill number is 8056675, and the account number is the name of the contributor. Contributions can also be sent to the number 0702878717 (Dorothy Musopole).

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