- According to Adet, he released the duo on humanitarian grounds, especially for the woman.
- After releasing the couple, he reached into his pocket and took out 1,000 shillings and asked the lawyers, litigants and others in the courtroom to contribute.
- After the fundraiser, the magistrate told the couple that their “sins had been forgiven”. He released them and advised them not to repeat the offense.
Magistrates are known to be tough, no-nonsense people with a high-pitched, authoritative voice.
Not many of them are known to pull pranks in court or make litigants and lawyers laugh. In fact, judicial officials say little and choose to speak their minds through their sentences or rulings.
It is the same with Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Vincent Adet, who made headlines this week after leading an impromptu fundraiser in aid of a couple who had been brought before him on charges of stealing a bale of wheat flour.
Adet is known for being calm and serious while presiding over cases. A few days earlier, the magistrate had put two policemen in the dock for not bringing witnesses to the hearing of a case.
The police officers were forced to stand by the suspects while the magistrate sought an explanation for his lack of “linkage” with the witnesses. He released them after a stern warning.
However, the plight of Saumu Ali and Evans Odhiambo prompted a different reaction from Mr. Adet. The couple pleaded guilty to the charge and asked to be pardoned. The woman was crying as she narrated why she stole the flour.
The magistrate requested a parole report from the couple, which he considered as he released them.
According to Adet, he released the duo on humanitarian grounds, especially for the woman.
“I have considered the circumstances of the offense and am sympathetic to his situation. With three children in her care and no source of income, I am of the opinion that we buy her a bundle of wheat flour and some meat for today,” he said.
After releasing the couple, he reached into his pocket and took out 1,000 shillings and asked the lawyers, litigants and others in the courtroom to contribute.
After the fundraiser, the magistrate told the couple that their “sins had been forgiven”. He released them and advised them not to repeat the offense.
The parole report showed that the couple had no source of income and were working menial jobs.
The report stated that Mr. Odhiambo is a casual worker in the vicinity of the Shimanzi area, where he swept and washed trucks.
The 29-year-old dropped out of class seven due to financial problems.
The court heard that the couple did not intentionally steal the flour, but rather thought they had thrown it away.
On the appointed day, Mr. Odhiambo explained that he was carrying out his regular duties cleaning transport vehicles belonging to Grain Industries when he saw the wheat flour. He took it thinking that the owners had thrown it away.
“Then I was later arrested on the charge of having stolen said item,” he said.
The woman explained that her husband had called her to help load a bale of flour from the truck, which she did before the items were set aside.
Price 1,980 shillings
“I didn’t know what happened next, but I was surprised that the police came to arrest us. My husband begged the police not to arrest me because I was not involved but they proceeded to handcuff me,” the woman said.
Ms. Ali and Mr. Odhiambo were charged with stealing in contravention of Section 268 as read in Section 275 of the penal code.
The charge sheet says that on April 13, in the Shimanzi area of Mvita sub-county, a bale of wheat flour valued at Sh1,980 from Grain Industries Ltd was stolen.
The magistrate said he was very sympathetic to the couple’s situation and released them.