13 July 2013

Kenya: Wife Denies Hiring Hitmen to Kill Spouse

An accountant with the Kenya Power company yesterday denied that she hired gunmen to kill her husband allegedly because he was abusive.

Scholastica Wanjiru was accused of hiring the gunmen, instructing them to kill her husband at the Buru Buru shopping centre and to make sure they destroyed the body as she had no interest in going through the sham of a burial.

Wanjiru is said to have wanted to kill her husband--Peter Mathenge who is also an accountant at the power firm-- because he habitually beat her up whenever they had an argument.

Chief Inspector Kinoti Marete said 34-year old Wanjiru met with policemen pretending to be hitmen on June 12, 2013, at the Buru Buru shopping centre where she instructed them to kill her husband.

She is alleged to have told them to destroy his body as she did not want to pretend she was a grieving widow. She paid the 'hit men' a down payment of Sh10,000 and promised to pay them a further Sh150,000 they completed their mission and proved they had destroyed her husband's body.

And to ensure that they did not make mistake who their intended victim was, Wanjiru allegedly gave the hitmen a color photo of her husband.

Mathenge claimed he got an anonymous call informing him about his wife's murderous plot and he reported to the police who set up the trap to arrest Wanjiru. He said he had earlier dismissed reports, also from anonymous sources who told him his wife was planning to poison him.

The police have lined up more than 10 witnesses to testify against Wanjiru and who police claim are privy to her plot to kill her husband.

Wanjiru was released on a Sh1 million bond with a similar surety or a cash bail of Sh500,000 by principal magistrate E. Nderitu who will hear the case on August 30.

Wanjiru's arrest and arraignment comes barely two weeks after a city trader Faith Wairimu was charged with plotting to kill her businessman husband near their Zimmerman home. Wairimu first admitted plotting to kill her husband because he was allegedly cheating on her. However, she changed her plea on the day she was to be sentenced.

It was not clear whether Wanjiru's lawyer JohnSwaka would plead his client was suffering from the batter women syndrome-- a kind of insanity suffered by a person who has seriously or repeatedly sustained physical injury from a spouse or partner.

In many countries it has been invoked as a defence in court when the person is charged with assaulting or even killing the abuser especially in a situation of domestic violence.

In many countries, such a defense works well for spouses who have been physically and or emotionally abused for along time without taking legal action against the abusers.

In some jurisdictions such as the UK, the law considers that people in such situations may get to a breaking point when they cannot take it anymore. However, the courts have to consider whether the wife or husband was acting spontaneously or she/he had premeditated and organised the act.

In Kenya, this kind of defense has however rarely or ever been cited as a defense in either the present or past cases.

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