In February 18th, 2018, KWS officers arrested the accused in possession and dealing in 7 kg of ivory. He was arraigned on February 20th, 2018 and pleaded not guilty. As of January 15th, 2024, this matter has been before Kibera court 35 times. Senior Resident Magistrate William Lopkoiyot is the third presiding magistrate to handle this file, the other two having been transferred.
Presiding Magistrate and Court:
Hon. W. Lopkoiyot – Senior Resident Magistrate – Court 4
Hon. Esther Boke – Chief Magistrate
Hon. Boaz Maura Ombewa – Senior Resident Magistrate
Advocates for the Accused:
Jason Ongechi Ondieki
Date of Arrest:
Date of Arraignment:
Location of Arrest:
Mukuru kwa Njenga
#36. January 16th, 2024 (Defence Hearing):
The proceedings for case 664/18 resumed today at Kibera Law Courts courtroom 4, with Jason Ondieki taking the stand to testify on his own behalf. The Honourable SRM W. Lopkoiyot presided over the matter.
Mr. Ondieki’s testimony centered around the events leading up to his arrest, shedding light on a dispute with Francis Joram, a man he had employed for a trench-digging job in his home in Mukuru kwa Reuben.
According to Ondieki, the disagreement arose when Joram demanded full payment for an unfinished job, leading to a heated exchange between the two. Ondieki said he offered to pay him a third of the payment but Francis refused the payment. He allegedly proceeded to threaten him, telling him he would regret not paying him the full amount. Ondieki claimed that a week later, Francis called to apologize, requesting to meet in person.
Ondieki testified that that evening Francis, accompanied by a stranger named Asman, came to his house. the accused continued that Francis had a small suitcase which he placed in a corner in Mr Ondieki’s house. Asman went out to make a phone call and later informed Francis and Ondieki that he would leave to go to a relative’s house to spend the night.
The following day at around 10 am Francis left Ondieki’s house but didn’t tell him where he was going. A moment after he had left, Francis called Ondieki to inform him that he had forgotten his suitcase and if Ondieki could bring the suitcase to him. Ondieki grabbed the suitcase, got on a boda boda and headed to Hillocks Hotel where Francis had told him he would be. When he got there Francis was in the company of another man unknown to Ondieki. Francis invited Ondieki to join them but Ondieki declined.
As Ondieki was about to leave, having handed Francis the suitcase, police officers surrounded them and took them in custody for being in possession of illegal ivory suspected to be in the suitcase. Ondieki said they were put in a vehicle to be transported to the police station. Mr Ondieki said, however, somewhere on the way to the police station the vehicle stopped and Ondieki was asked to get out.
He alleged that a policeman took him a short distance from the vehicle and started beating him, telling him to admit to being the owner of the suitcase. He said that when he finally took him back to the vehicle, the two people he had been arrested with, Francis and his companion from the Hillock’s Hotel were not in the vehicle. Ondieki said he was then taken to Langata police station where he wrote a statement.
The prosecution, however, presented a different narrative during the cross-examination. The police statement, purportedly written by Ondieki and read out by the prosecutor, outlined a plan between Ondieki, Francis, and Asman to spend the night at Ondieki’s place. The plan involved meeting a buyer the next day and receiving a cut of 50,000 Kenyan shillings.
Ondieki vehemently denied writing or signing this statement, claiming a lack of understanding of the English language in which it was written.
Ondieki’s defense attorney, Mr. Makori, informed the court that his client had little to no understanding of English, and no translation was provided during the statement’s recording at the police station. Mr. Makori asserted that the defence would be prepared to present submissions on February 1st.
Previous proceedings involved testimony from two prosecution witnesses: a representative from the Museums of Kenya confirming the authenticity of seized ivory and an officer from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Interestingly, the defence revealed that the ivory exhibits had not been presented in court since the case began.
The court adjourned with the next proceedings scheduled for February 1st, when Mr. Makori is expected to present the defence’s submissions.
by E. Gutu