A 15-year old student who was allegedly impregnated by an ACK priest in Voi sub-county and currently a witness to an ongoing court case has gone missing.
Her parents fear she might have been kidnapped to circumvent justice in a case where the suspect is accused of having defiled and impregnated her.
Mr. Ayub Mwashigadi, the father, said his daughter went missing in April 28 at the precincts of Voi Law Courts where her case was being mentioned.
They left their Wongonyi home for Voi that morning using separate cars. The girl was in a taxi hired by the school that arrived early and was supposed to wait for the arrival of her parents. However, when her parents arrived, the girl had disappeared and has not been seen since then, he explained.
Mr. Mwashighadi said the distraught family members have been frantically looking for the missing girl for over a month with no success. After her disappearance, the case was reported to the police and registered under the OB number OB/22/13/5/2017.
Speaking to KNA on Sunday, Mr. Ayub alleged that the disappearance might be a planned and deliberate effort to wreck the defendant case and sabotage justice.
We need to find our daughter. She is the key to having justice prevail in this unfortunate event that has turned our lives upside down, he said.
He added that his daughter could not have run away from home as they had never quarreled over the pregnancy.
More worrying are the prospects that the girl, who was due to deliver in May or early June, might have already delivered in unknown locations, according to a teary Ms. Louisa Mwashighadi, the mother.
She said the family was devastated by the disappearance and hoped her daughter was safe.
She also alleged it could be foul play after she refused overtures to drop the case. She claimed that her brother-in-law and some relatives of the defendant had attempted to cajole her to withdraw the case and have an out-of-court settlement but she refused.
She claimed that Sh 200,000 used to bail out the suspect would be used to cater for the education of the baby, if she accepted the proposal.
I refused. I told them I just want justice for my daughter, she said.
The mother blamed the police for dragging their feet in finding the missing girl. She admitted that the family was fearful over the fate of the missing girl and her baby warning that her life might be in danger. She called for well-wishers to help her track down her daughter.
When contacted, Voi OCPD Joseph Chesire said the police were investigating the disappearance of the child. He noted that sometimes parents and defendants conspired to execute such plans to frustrate the court process.
Anyone who is found to have been involved in this disappearance will face full force of the law, he said.
However, Ms. Mwashighadi denied claims of involvement in the disappearance stating that she was pushing for justice for her daughter. She added she had been making frequent trips to the police station in search of help but it has been in vain. She claimed that police had advised her to bring the people she suspected to be behind the disappearance for questioning.
How do you tell me to go find people I suspect are behind my daughter's disappearance and bring them for questioning? What is your work as police officers? she posed.
The victim has been a student at a local girls' school in the region.
The case came into the limelight in March after police, under pressure from Education and Children department, launched a manhunt for the randy cleric who was suspected to have impregnated her. After his arrest, he was charged with defilement but denied the charges. He was released on a cash bail of sh 200,000.
Mr. Mwashigadi said his missing daughter was scheduled for a court appearance on July 11, 2017 and there was a possibility the case might flop if she was missing.
Kennedy Machora, Voi sub-county Education boss, said the girl was supposed to be in school studying with other students. He appealed to the residents to report any case of her whereabouts to her office.
Civil Society groups have called for protection of children who are used as witnesses in such cases. Ms. Makrina Mwamburi, an official with Sauti Ya Wanawake, said children were in greater danger in instances where their testimony was required in court.
She noted that they could be intimidated into silence or even recant their testimony to the detriment of the justice system.
There is need for children to be protected. They are vulnerable and might fall victim to machinations of adults especially when their testimony is needed, she said.
Source: Kenya News Agency