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How Tumbo and his friends ate their way into prison

By Kamau Muthoni | Published Sat, May 12th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 11th 2018 at 23:43 GMT +3
Fried meat and ugali

On May 24, 2016 six teenage boys dutifully sat on sisal mats in a mud house in Mwatate, Taita Taveta County, ingesting roasted meat tendons.

Among the six was 19-year-old Ben Tumbo Vilevile. Little did Tumbo know his stomach would land him in jail for three years. Tumbo told the court he was invited for a feast on the plateful day by a neighbour who claimed lady luck had led him to a kill along his way home.

A camel had just gone missing, and residents were on a frantic search on its whereabouts. They discovered a head and a foot hidden in a thicket.

But there was a sweet aroma calling for attention and it led to a mud and grass thatched house. The six were unable to explain where they got the meat and were charged before the magistrate’s court. Three of them were jailed.

Tumbo appealed the ruling, arguing that he was invited to eat and was not a part of those who stole the camel. Since the prosecution did not present the carcass head and the foot in court, he said, no one had proof that the meat belonged to a camel. 

But High Court Judge Jaqueline Kamau found that failure to explain where they got the meat from created suspicion that they stole and slaughtered the animal.

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“Eating camel meat was not an offence. The pertinent question was where that meat came from,” the judge ruled. 

“A penalty of three years that had been meted upon them was fair and reasonable,” she ruled.


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