May 25, 2021
By Kitavi Mutua
A Kitui Court has for the second time postponed the judgment in a case in which a Catholic Priest is charged with attempting to kill a Form Two student and a child he is alleged to have fathered.
Kitui Chief Magistrate Stephen Mbungi yesterday apologised to a packed courtroom saying his judgment on the criminal trial of Father Japheth Mwove Kimanzi was not ready.
Mr Mbungi said his work had been disrupted at the weekend by a power blackout in Kitui but pledged to deliver the verdict on June 16th.
Father Kimanzi, who has since been ex-communicated from Catholic priesthood, is facing charges of assaulting and causing grievous harm to the woman and her child. The accused has denied the assault charges and told the court the woman was out to tarnish his name. He denied he had attacked her.
Yesterday, the magistrate apologised to the parties including the victims who had travelled from far to know their fate after a dramatic trial that lasted five years.
“I was unable to conclude the writing of the judgment because there was interruption of power the whole weekend. I want to say sorry for that. I’ll therefore deliver the judgment on June 16th at 2pm” said Mr Mbungi.
The judgment had initially been expected on May 21st.
In 2015 police arrested the priest in connection with the brutal attack on the 23-year-old woman and her child.
The child, who is now aged nine years, suffered permanent disability including loss of sight, damaged brain and crippled legs. The girl became deaf and blind.
During the trial, the prosecution told the court how the priest conspired to destroy evidence linking him to the child, including the attack using crude weapons on the night of November 16, 2015.
According to witness testimonies and documentary evidence including a DNA report, presented in court, the accused priest, formerly in charge of Kabati parish in Kitui Catholic Diocese, refused to take responsibility in raising the child and frustrated efforts by the girl’s family to get justice.
The court was told how the teenage mother, then 15 years, was enticed by Mr Kimanzi using biscuits, pocket money and other little favors. He was then serving at Nuu Catholic parish.
She told the court how the priest lured her into an illicit relationship while still a Form One student at Mwambiu mixed secondary school in Mwingi, but later used violence, intimidation and bribery to silence her.
“I dropped out of school in shame having let down my parents. My peers ridiculed me for coveting a priest and I’ve been struggling to raise the baby on my own since February 2012,” she testified.
The court heard the priest invited the woman to Kabati parish offices, his new station, on November 16, 2015, to discuss how the child would get specialised medical attention. She was to carry all the clinical reports.
“He telephoned me and suggested that we meet. I travelled from Thika with my daughter as agreed but when I arrived at Kabati Holy Family Church where he used to minister, he wasn’t in and his phone was off,” she recounted.
She said the parish gateman had been instructed to keep her waiting until he returned. At 5pm, the priest called asking they meet at his home in Tulia village, 20 kilometers away.
“I took a matatu and headed to his home arriving late in the evening but he was not there either. I found his mother who chased me away prompting me to seek accommodation from a neighbor’s home,” she told the court.
While at the neighbor’s house, she said the priest called threatening to kill her for embarrassing him.
His mother followed her there and demanded she be thrown out for being a disgrace to her son, she testified.
“Cowed by the threats, my host opted to escort me to the nearby market to board a taxi back to Kabati but little did I know that after stepping out of that house, I was walking into a well laid death trap” she said.
Suddenly, a man emerged armed with a blunt object and started chasing them. She was hit her on the head while the other woman fled.
“I recognised my attacker was the same priest who had invited me to their home for reconciliation. I shouted his name but he responded by hitting my child, who was still on my back, on the head and blood started oozing from her nose,” she narrated to court.
The teenage mother sustained serious head injuries. She told court that she only survived by feigning unconsciousness. The aggressor fled convinced that they were dead.
She left the bleeding toddler on the road and crawled into the nearby thicket where she spent the night writhing in pain.
The two were discovered the following morning by villagers who alerted police.
Before the attack, the teenage mother had written a personal letter to the then Kitui Bishop Anthony Muheria explaining her troubles.
An internal investigation was launched.