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Lawyers recount attacks on magistrates in courtrooms

National

A Mombasa-based lawyer Jared Magolo has recounted how, 17 years ago a magistrate got a rude shock when a suspect facing robbery with violence charges splashed human waste on her.

The suspect sneaked into the courtroom with human waste wrapped in a polythene bag before throwing the court into confusion.

The then Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Teresia Mwangi was forced to adjourn the court session as prison wardens tried to restore order.

Barely one month later, another suspect attempted to splash human waste on the same magistrate; however, police officers and prison wardens moved in quickly and prevented the ugly incident.

The suspect was arrested by the police and charged before another magistrate.

In the first incident, the suspect was angered by the magistrate's decision not to disqualify herself from hearing a robbery with violence case against him.

Lawyer Ngacaku Ngakui described last week's incident at Makadara Law Courts where a magistrate was shot and injured as a sad occurrence.

The Makadara Principal Magistrate Monica Kivuti succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment on Saturday.

Ngakui said the attack could have been avoided if the police officer was not allowed into the courtroom with a gun.

Some years ago guns were not allowed in court premises. 

"Prison wardens were allowed with their guns within the premises of the court but not in a courtroom," said Ngakui.

But this changed following increased threats of terrorism in the country and police were allowed to enter court premises with guns.

Ngakui is among the first Kenyan magistrates who replaced the colonial magistrates immediately after independence and says the Makadara case was a unique one.

He said court administrators should come up with better ways of handling armed police officers

"Although the screening of people entering the court premises has been there since the emergence of the terror threat against judicial officers, of late there has been laxity," he said.

Ngakui who appears not comfortable with private security being left to man the public entering the courts wonders whether they can stop armed police from the premises.

He said deploying private security in various courts cannot address the issue of police or the public carrying guns into the court premises.

"Although the search has been going on, I do not think a private security officer can stop a police officer or a member of the public carrying a gun from entering the court," he said.

Threats against magistrates in Mombasa Law Courts have gone unreported.

About three years ago, Mombasa Chief Magistrate Enda Nyaloti was forced to flee after a suspect accused of defiling a child attempted to beat her up in the courtroom.

The magistrate who was busy recording court proceedings screamed after the suspect jumped over the barrier between her and the accused.

Nyaloti fled for dear life leaving her shoes in the chambers as prison wardens wrestled the suspect. 

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