Kakamega man sentenced to death for stealing suitcase

On the morning of October 12, 2008, Richard Abwalaba left home for work carrying a suitcase that contained some clothes and got onto his bicycle.

His plans were, however, cut short when Ayub Ashir and another man armed with knives, a hammer and metal rods, accosted him at Shiamboko Village, Kakamega County.

While Abwalaba screamed for help, the two robbed him of his suitcase, a mobile phone, identity card, a voter’s card and Sh3,000 then fled into the bushes. His cries for help attracted a crowd who came to his rescue.

The good Samaritans followed some footprints that led them to a house where they found Ashir.

They roughed up Ashir and upon further interrogation about the robbery, he offered to show the crowd where the stolen items were. He then led them to where the suitcase containing Abwalaba’s clothes had been hidden.

Abwalaba also identified Ashir as one of the robbers saying it was daybreak when the attack occurred and he could, therefore, see his assailants properly.

Ashir was then arrested and arraigned in court where he was charged with robbery with violence. He was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to death.

He immediately moved to the High Court where he said he had given the confession under duress and faulted the two witnesses provided by prosecution, Abwalaba and Julius Mukati, saying their accounts were not consistent.

He also said the act of pointing out the place where the suitcase was recovered was not tantamount to a confession because he was under threat from the crowd who were beating him up.

His appeal was however, dismissed and he sought redress from the Court of Appeal sitting in Kisumu where Judges Daniel Musinga, Agnes Murgor and Stephen Kairu heard his case.

In their ruling, the three said there was no contradiction in the testimony given by the two prosecution witnesses.

They also noted that the robbery was committed early in the morning and there was sufficient light to enable Abawalaba identify Ashir.

This coupled with recovery of the stolen suitcase, so soon after the robbery, was sufficient evidence that Ashir was one of the robbers.

They then quashed his appeal on September 23, 2016 and upheld the death sentence.