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Stealing from the sleeping

By | February 24th 2010

By Wahome Thuku

Mwangi and his wife Anne lived in a leafy suburb of Nairobi in a presumably secure environment. The couple had two watchmen. One of them was called Nyaga.

One night in January 1984, Mwangi arrived home at around 3.30am. Nyaga, who was on duty, opened the gate and he drove in.

Just then, Mwangi realised that the lights in his living room were on and one window was open.

He opened the main door with his key and on entering the house he noticed that the door leading to the bedroom was also open, which was unusual.

He went straight to the bedroom without passing through the living room. He put on the lights. His wife was sound asleep. As Mwangi was undressing, he noticed the wardrobe doors were open and a clock lying on the floor.

He became more suspicious. He woke his wife up and started questioning her on why the lights were on and the window and door open. Surprised, the wife said she had earlier heard someone touching the wardrobe but had assumed it was Mwangi.

On going back to the living room, he found the TV set and two radios missing. Also missing were amplifiers, speakers, table clothes, a camera and a pair of sunglasses.

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Watchman’s ignorance

They questioned Nyaga but he denied any knowledge of the theft.

The couple immediately went to a nearby police post and made a report. Police officers went to the residence with a dog but they could not make any arrests.

Some neighbours told the police that they heard a car leaving the area at night but the watchman denied any knowledge.

After further interrogation, police concluded that Nyaga was the culprit. He was arrested and charged with burglary and theft.

During trial, it emerged that on the material night, Mwangi’s wife had actually left the house at around 9.30pm to visit a friend and returned at 10.30pm.

In his unsworn statement, Nyaga claimed that Anne had actually returned to the house with two male friends. She had informed him that the men were Mwangi’s friends.

The watchman told the court that the men left the home in a car just before Mwangi arrived, carrying a briefcase. He said that night he was unwell and his colleague was off duty. After doing a patrol at around 9pm, he went to the guard’s sentry. He was woken up by Anne and the two men.

Blaming the boss

Nyaga asserted that only Anne would know about the burglary since she was the one who came with the visitors.

But Mwangi’s wife denied having hosted any men in the house that night. Anne said when she returned to the house, she did not see the watchman.

It was not clear whether the car heard by the neighbours was Anne’s or the one used by the men or whether such men existed at all. There was no evidence whether the alleged burglar had entered the house before Anne had left or after.

After the trial, the magistrate in Nairobi delivered his verdict. What would be your verdict?

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