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High Court orders retrial of rugby stars accused of raping musician

By Bernice Mbugua
Wednesday, July 1st, 2020
Rugby Sevens stars Alex Olaba and Frank Wanyama in court during the ruling of their rape case last year. Photo/PD/CHARLES MATHAI
In summary

Two rugby players sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping an upcoming female musician in Nairobi on April 23, 2018 obtained a reprieve yesterday after the High Court set aside their conviction.

Justice Ngenye Macharia ordered the two former Shujaa players: Lawrence Frank Wanyama and Alex Mahaga Olaba to be charged afresh in the case, saying it was a mistrial.

“There was no evidence to show that the complainant who was the key witnesses to testify in the case was sworn in, which made the whole case become a mistrial,” ruled the Judge.

Justice Macharia directed that the two players be released from prison and taken to Kilimani police station for preparation of plea taking on July 7.

The court will thereafter determine whether to release them on bail or not.

The two were sentenced to 15 years in prison last year in August after they were found guilty with the offense of gang rape which occurred at Seefa apartment in Highrise estate, Nairobi on February 11, 2018.

The two were suspended from the national team after they were charged with the offense. They, however, continued to play for Kenya Harlequin FC until when they were jailed.

Wanyama and Olaba were arrested after a woman identified in court as W. A. claimed that one of the players who was her friend raped her after she had agreed to go to his house for her birthday on February 10, 2018.

The victim took to social media to narrate her experience alleging that the player drugged her and then raped her with his friend, whom she did not know.

During their mitigation the accused urged the court to grant them non-custodial sentence saying they were remorseful and young.

Through their lawyers, the two pleaded with the court saying the lady was actually older than them as they were 23 and 22 respectively while the complainant was 24 years old.

“The accused persons come from humble background and it is through their careers they were able to support their kin,” their lawyers had argued in court. 

The prosecution on the other had asked for harsh sentence saying the victim underwent trauma and her life changed from that night. 

Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku who tried them, in her ruling, noted that objectives of sentencing are; Retribution, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, Justice to victims, Promote sense of victims and Community protection.  According to her she had taken all those factors into consideration when handing them the 15 year sentence.

She noted that section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act gives rape or defilement in association with another or gang rape 15 years that may be enhanced to life imprisonment.

“It has a mandatory sentence,  though it was submitted that accused had willingly presented themselves to police and were victims of extortion,” she ruled. 

She further noted that the complainant was traumatized hence deterrent sentence was necessary.

“A custodial sentence is proper in this case. I impose the minimum sentence which is 15 years,” she ruled. 

Wanyama and Olaba, who play for Kenya Harlequin FC were charged in April 2018 took plea before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi who granted them a cash bail.

The two allegedly recorded the entire ordeal, and when they learnt that the victim was planning to seek legal redress, they deleted the video recordings.

The Magistrate in her Judgment ruled that their decision to delete the videos was an expression of guilt. 

In the victim’s police statement, she claimed she tried to confront Wanyama with the allegations, but he dismissed her telling “to go look for a lawyer should she decide to go public”.

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