When the 47-year-old mother pecked her only daughter, straightened her dress and escorted her into the school van, she had no idea that she had just committed the biggest blunder of her life.
Eleven months later, Faith* dreads looking at her three-year-old daughter in the eye or answer her innocent questions.
Her answers are guarded, and like a mother hen, her eyes are constantly on her baby, not even trusting her playmates.
For mother and daughter, the age of innocence is over. The young girl’s world was turned upside down and is forever tugging at her mother’s heartstrings.
The nightmare started on January 18 in Nyali, Mombasa. A van showed up at the gate at 7.30am to ferry her to a school within Nyali.
The caretaker, a woman, claimed that the van the family was familiar with had broken down and they opted to pick the girl in a matatu -- which had a conductor too. Without a fuss, Faith let her daughter board the “strange matatu.”
However, at around 11am, Faith’s sister, whose children also went to the same school, learnt that her niece was not at the institution.
When they called the caretaker, she told them not to worry as the girl was in her custody and promised to bring her to an agreed place.
However, the caretaker first dropped the girl at Faith’s sister’s home and then proceeded to the meeting place to explain what had happened. When the mother was finally reunited with her daughter, the girl looked dirty, disoriented and tired.
Sensing something was amiss Faith reported the matter to Nyali Police Station. “I was given OB NO. 70/18/01/20919.
“I was then referred to the gender desk at the Coast Provincial General Hospital. A check-up confirmed that my daughter had been defiled.”
A medical report filed on January 31, at the Coast General Hospital confirmed that the girl had been defiled and her private parts had lacerations. The doctor recommended that she undergoes counselling.
A report prepared by Amani Counselling Centre after counselling the girl which was addressed to the regional Criminal Investigations officer reads:
“During the therapy, I observed signs of defilement. These were in terms of psychological and behavioural depression symptoms as anxiety, hyper vigilance and fear. Regression was also evident in such demands such as suckling and clinging behaviour. There were also symptoms associated with post traumatic disorder such as loss of social competence.”
Initially, Faith was made to believe that her daughter did not alight at the school after she fell asleep and was only discovered when the vehicle was taken to the car wash.
The distraught mother refused to buy the story and reported to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. She protested that the caretaker and the drivers had not been questioned.
In the meantime, she quietly sought information about the van and matatu which her daughter boarded.
On March 11, Alice Ochola, the prosecution counsel wrote to Nyali Police Station on behalf of ODPP directing them to urgently forward the duplicate police file within 14 days and update us on the position of this matter.”
On May 6, ODPP wrote to DCI Kisauni demanding to know why the investigating officer had recorded any statement from the victim.
The ODPP, further instructed the DCI to record the statement of the care taker, Aysah Harun, alias Mama Fatuma to “let her clarify on the number of drivers who were on duty on the material day.”
According to the ODPP, the caretaker who was washing the van had claimed that he discovered the girl sleeping in the van at 8am, contradicting another driver who said the minor was found at 10am.
Ochola directed: “Let the investigating officer comply with the above mentioned directions in the next seven days from the date herein and resubmit the file to the court for further directions.”
On July 29, Ochola vented her frustrations in yet another letter to the DCI Kisauni: “Two (2) months down the line, your office has never complied! And no valid reason has been given why you never complied. Note that this case has a hearing date in August and it is important that we review the file before we proceed with the hearing.”
In her latest letter, the prosecution counsel gave the DCI three days to forward the file.
In the meantime, Morris Manzia Phillip, the driver of the vehicle that had broken down had already been charged with attempted defilement, a charge he denied. The case was scheduled for hearing on September 19 but failed to take off.
“When we went to court on September 19, we were told that the matter would be heard on November 26 in Shanzu Law Courts. It is being prosecuted by the Child Protection Unit.”
“My daughter has somehow stabilised after undergoing counselling but every time she asks me where we are going when I go to court, I cringe. Her life may never be the same again,” says Faith.
When we called the school to find out whether the issue had been handled, an administrator said they had not taken action against the drivers implicated in the case because they were not their employees.
“This was an arrangement between the parent and the school. The matter is being handled by the DCI. By the way, so you have to write about this conversation without my consent?” she posed.
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