A 34-year-old double amputee, Irene Amukuma Aisha alias Mkavita, recalls the events of February 3, 2017, like they happened a few hours ago.
It is the day two men gang-raped, stabbed and tied her to the train tracks to be run over by a speeding train at Mombasa’s Kibarani area. The train crushed her legs near the hips.
In 2018, she told a Mombasa court that her ex-boyfriend and a childhood friend were behind the attack.
The ex-boyfriend, Stephen Mzee Thomas alias Kerenje, and his friend, Steven Otieno Okalu were arrested and charged with rape and attempted murder. They denied the charges.
Mkavita told the court that she was three months pregnant when she went through the ordeal.
On Sunday, we traced her to the Mbaraki cemetery grounds.
“I find solace at the cemetery as it is a final resting place where there are no disturbances. I have forgiven them. I hope God will also forgive them,” she said of her attackers, adding that she will, however, never forget the ordeal.
Mkavita was a bubbly mother of two who eked her living by selling beans and chapatis near the former Mombasa Municipal Council dumpsite.
On the day of her attack, she had left her home in Kibarani, Mlimani area at 4am for a quick dash along the metre-gauge railway line to her workplace. It was pitch dark when she was waylaid by her attackers.
“I was nearly halfway to my workplace when some people grabbed me from behind. They threw me to the ground and started to rape me in turns,” said Mkavita. The attackers then tied her to the railway tracks and left her for dead.
End of me
“I unsuccessfully tried to untie myself. When I heard the sound of the train, I knew it was the end for me.
“I shouted for help and the locomotive driver noticed me and applied emergency brakes. He blew the train horn continuously, but it was too late,” she said.
Mkavita was rushed to hospital where she underwent a life-saving operation. She was in a coma for three days.
“I thank God for the miracle. I thought I would die. I stayed at Aga Khan Hospital for two months before being allowed to go home,” she said.
Mkavita’s story was widely covered by local media, sparking anger and protests that led to the arrest and prosecution of her former lover.
Hundreds of well-wishers, including Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, who sympathised with her plight came forward to help her.
“I did not believe it when, on the day I was allowed to leave the hospital, a small kitty had been set up. People of goodwill had raised enough money to last me for a whole year and take my children to school,” she said.
Mkavita was moved to a two-bedroom house at Bububu estate in Mtongwe, Likoni sub-County.
“I accepted my new self. There were many counsellors from the Mombasa County Government, led by Director of Gender Esther Ingolo, who made sure that I was safe and comfortable,” she said.
She would later leave the safe house and relocate to Bombolulu. A Good Samaritan took her two children a home in Kilifi.
Mkavita now plays for the county’s sitting volleyball team. The team, which is made up of persons with walking impairment, trains at the Aga Khan Indoor Complex.
She also got engaged to a matatu operator and the two were blessed with a child, who she is raising with the help of her mother.