Four stowaways jailed for trying to sneak to US via Mombasa ship

From left: Mnyika Maganga, Fredrick Gitari, Stephen Malenya and Mohamed Bwika at the Mombasa Court. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]
Four men who were captured trying to sneak from Kenya across the Atlantic Ocean to the US while hidden in the belly of a ship have been jailed.

A Mombasa court handed the would-be stowaways a six-month sentence arguing that the punishment will serve as a deterrent to youths or anyone with similar conduct. 

Mohamed Bwika, Stephen Malenya, Fredrick Gitari and Mnyika Maganga admitted to sneaking aboard a cargo ship MV Ken Sea hoping to get to America where they would look for jobs and establish new lives.

They told Senior Resident Magistrate Edgar Kagoni that life in Kenya had become hard and unbearable because there were no jobs. 

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Kagoni said that youths must be encouraged to work hard and love their country instead of dreaming to migrate to the US for a good life.

“The youths must be encouraged to love their country and not dream only of going to America,” said Kagoni.

“Though you seem to be innocent in your endeavours to look for greener pastures, which you believe you can only be found in America, it must be noted that you were risking your lives by hiding in the ship and in that manner you threatened the crew of the ship,” said Kagoni.

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“I don’t encourage the conduct of such people around here who think they can hide in a ship and go wherever they want. So that others don’t do the same, they will go to jail for six months,” ruled Kagoni.

Pleaded for mercy

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The four were accused of entering MV Ken Sea on August 18, 2019, by climbing through a mooring rope and hiding in the engine room and chain locker without permission of the Master.

Prosecutor Ngina Mutua said that Bwika had hidden at the engine room while his three friends hid at the chain locker.

Bwika in his defence said he is the only dependent in their family and his parents and siblings depend on him and he was just on his way to look for greener pastures.

“I am the only dependent and my mum and dad all depend on me. I wanted to go look for green pastures. I was going to America to try my luck since I had a friend who did the same and succeeded,” said Bwika.

Malenya said his work had ended and he was just trying to go to America and look for some luck.

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Njoka in his defence told the courts that he was misadvised by his friends and said that he was remorseful.

“It was bad advice from friends and I regret and pray for mercy,” said the third accused.

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USAtlantic OceanEdgar KagoniMV Ken Sea