State asks Kenyans to contribute Sh150m and save man facing execution in Saudi

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi while appearing before the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The government has asked citizens to contribute money and save a Kenyan man facing a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi while appearing before the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations said under the prevailing circumstances Kenya has no money to secure the release of Stephen Munyakho.

Munyakho who was to be executed on May 15 has been in Saudi cells for over 13 years as the family races past time to raise Sh150 million asked as compensation.

The said amount according to Shariah Laws is the ‘blood money’ which must be paid before Munyakho can be released.

According to the family, Munyakho, 50, was convicted of the murder of his colleague, Abdul Halim Saleh, after they were involved in an altercation while at work in Saudi Arabia in 2011. 

Initially, he was jailed for manslaughter but an appeal by the deceased's family in Shariah Court saw him handed a death sentence after charges were upgraded to murder. 

Mr Saleh succumbed to injuries sustained in a workplace altercation between the two. Although Munyakho who was injured too was initially sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter, a Shariah court sentenced him to death following an appeal.

Mudavadi told the committee Munyakho’s matter has official been documented and a report filed.

He said the late Saleh’s family had asked for Sh400 million as compensation but reduced the amount to Sh150 million after a period of negotiation between the two families.

“Mr Chairman, Munyakho was to be executed on May 15, 2024, but after an intense diplomatic engagement between Nairobi and Riyadh since the matter came to light, his death has been stayed as we seek to find a lasting solution,” said Mudavadi.

He said although the government remains committed to continuing with the engagements, he had personally written to his Saudi counterpart on behalf of the family requesting that the matter be solved amicably.

“Mr Chairman, as a government, we can only focus on diplomatic interventions because there are no funds to draw from under the prevailing circumstances unless parliament creates a fund of such nature,” said Mudavadi.

 Bring Back Stevo Campaign Committee members led by Dorothy Kweyu Musopole, Chairman Joseph Odindo and Cyprian Amakalu addressing the media at Sarova Pan Afric Hotel, Nairobi on May 8, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Mudavadi said although the family has started initiatives towards raising the said amount, they had appealed to the government to urgently intervene and save Munyakho from the hangman.

“All I can say is that as a government we will do our best in different capacities to call for public appeals to support so that much resource is raised to save Munyakho,” he said.

Last week while acknowledging the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Munyakho’s family pleaded with the government to intervene.

Munyakho's mother, veteran journalist Dorothy Kweyu, appealed to the government to negotiate for an extension of the deadline to allow them to secure his release from prison. Ms Kweyu also pleaded with Kenyans of goodwill to help her family raise the funds to have her son who has been in jail for 13 years, released. 

"We are here to make an urgent appeal to Kenyans of goodwill to help us raise 3.5 million Saudi Riyals (approximately Sh150 million)," she said.

She revealed that the execution was to happen in 2014 but was postponed until one of Abdul's five children who was only 5, reaches maturity age since they all have to consent to that form of justice. 

This means the youngest child may celebrate his 18th birthday this month by either consenting to have Munyakho executed or agree to extension of the deadline to allow the estranged family to raise the required funds. 

So far, Kweyu said they have raised Sh5.5 million, which is "way short of the target." To bridge the huge deficit, the family has organised a funds drive this Sunday.

They have also appealed to well-wishers to contribute virtually through Paybill No. 8056675 with your name as Account Number or via MPESA to +254 702 878717 (Dorothy Musopole).