6 August 2002

Kenya: Mother is Jailed for Neglecting Her Children

A woman who abandoned her four children has been jailed for three years and denied access to them for four years.

Mary Wanjiru Kimani, 36, was yesterday given the option of a Sh20,000 fine which, she failed to raise and thus began her jail term.

She left the children to fend for themselves in their one-roomed house at Subukia, Nakuru.

Nakuru Senior Resident Magistrate Hellen Wasilwa ordered that the children be placed under the care of Arap Moi Children's Home.

"If she wishes to have them back, she can apply for reintegration with her family after four years and we shall consider it," the magistrate said after reading a probation report prepared by Ms Janet Ayusa.

Mrs Wasilwa described Kimani's actions as unmotherly, adding: "Even animals take care of their own. The elephants mourn and bury their own in moving ceremonies befitting their status. Why not human beings with brains to know right and wrong?"

In mitigation, Kimani pleaded for forgiveness, saying she had learnt her lesson during a two-week stay in remand custody.

She said she had resorted to drunkenness out of frustration.

Her woes began when neighbours reported the children's fate to the police. Last week, the magistrate hit the headlines when she adjourned her court and went to Nakuru Town to buy clothes for the children who looked shaggy, starved and sickly.

She also bought them chicken and chips after they had been bathed and clothed by court orderlies.

The convict had denied abandoning her children in contravention of the new Children's Act.

Already, some people have offered to help. Ms Deepar Thakkar of Nakuru's Bunny's Kindergarten has offered to educate Veronica Wangeci, 12, James Ndonye, 8, David Njoroge, 3, and Rachael Njoki, 2, while Mr Wycliffe Akolo promised school uniform with Mrs Rebecca Oduor pledging to donated clothes.

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