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Empowerment of Human Rights Defenders bears fruits

As HRDs they made a powerful statement to everyone.

Empowerment of Human Rights Defenders bears fruits

On 27th January 2016, Msambweni Human Rights Defenders made a dramatic citizen arrest of an old man who was reported to have allegedly defiled a 13 year old standard 3 school girl in a sleepy Fihoni Village, Msambweni sub- county  in Kwale County. The decision to arrest was organized by the Msambweni sub- county HRDs coordinator Mahmoud Barroh.The news of Mzee Zuma Tsuma was highlighted in the media on Sunday 24thJanuary 2016. The news drew sharp reactions from across the country. The single grandfather who was entrusted to take care of the child and two others in 2008 turned on the elder girl and repeatedly defiled and impregnated her last year.‘We became suspicious as years went as the old man has no wife and when we confronted him he became violent and rude,’ said the village elder of Fihoni when he met the HRDs at the local administration offices. The elder then confronted the parents who have camped at local dumpsite and scavenge for a living.

In 2013 the local Voluntary Children Officer took up the case to relevant offices in Msambweni and local administration. The Mzee was arrested alongside the girl and taken for medical examination where it was allegedly found out that he had no carnal knowledge of the girl and therefore was set free.
However the old man publicly boasted that there’s nothing they can do and the girl was his wife whether they want it or not.

In 2015, the girl got pregnant and dropped out of school. The matter was reported to the local administration and even to the Msambweni children office but nothing happened until Citizen TV dropped the brought the issue to light.The Msambweni Children Officer visited the village on Tuesday to ascertain the situation and left.
The HRDs led by Msambweni Coordinator Mahmoud Barroh, Sauti Ya Wanawake- Kwale Chairperson Asha Chimweri, Kwale Human Rights Network Gender Committee Vice Chair Hafsa Zuga, Children Rights Activist Gabriel Mukhwana and Jalim Ibrahim went to the village and held a meeting with local elders and school administration and gathered facts which enabled them to walk for over 30 minutes along bushy and sandy pathway in smoldering heat to reach the old man’s homestead tucked in a bushy surrounding.

They met a young man who was visiting and some children. The old man was nowhere around. After a 30 minute wait, they decided to look for him in the bush and caught him within minutes. They interrogated him at his homestead where he confessed to have ‘used’ the girl who had given birth three weeks ago to his child. The girl had gone to the hospital to have stitches removed as she gave birth through caesarian.The team told the mzee to change and matched him to the police station as one of them waited for the girl.

A few minutes before reaching the bus station the Children Officer in the company of Msambweni OCS and another officer confronted them. They were apparently alerted when they heard of the citizen arrest. After a heated argument about who is supposed to do what they all agreed that everyone has a role to play. The old man was then handed over to the hands of the officer.The OCS had promised speedy investigation and arraigning the old man to court.

As HRDs they made a powerful statement to everyone. They have agreed to keep the spirit burning and further follow-up on several cases going unreported.The girl was later rescued and put under care and protection. The HRD’s hope to roll out an extensive civic education campaign in the area concerning defilement and other children human rights issues.

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