17 February 2019

Kenya: Rachel, Wife of Dutch Paedophile Suspect Speaks Out

Kitui-based wife of the Dutch national facing defilement charges in court was shocked to learn that her husband had been jailed in the Netherlands for the same offenses of sexually molesting underage girls.

Rachel, the Kenyan wife of Hans Egon Dieter Vriens, the man accused of defiling three minors in Nairobi says the allegations and subsequent court case have disrupted their lives and the charity work of taking care of street children.

In an interview with the Nation at her Kyusyani home in Kitui County, Rachel says she met the 65-year-old nine years in Githurai, Nairobi and dated him for two years before they wed.

At 24, she says her only desire was to settle down with her foreign husband and lead a quiet life and that's why she bought land in Kitui County away from the city.

HANS' OTHER FAMILY

At first, Rachel rejected requests for an interview but later reluctantly agreed in bid to set the record straight following media reports linking her husband to child abuse crimes.

She paraded eight girls from different communities who stay in their rural home and are beneficiaries of their charity work. She says all the girls are all enrolled in local primary schools.

"I knew Hans must have had a family back in his motherland and he had told me as much, but I didn't imagine he could be linked to such offences as I've never seen him behave suspiciously," she says.

When the sex abuse claims first emerged in November 2018, Rachel was visiting family friends in Malindi and the husband was in Nairobi where he stays most of the time.

"I was called from Netherlands by one of his sisters who wanted to know what was happening. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the news on TV and nobody had told me about it. I was shocked at the charges and I've been struggling to know the truth because he still pleads his innocence," Rachel says.

'DEEPLY ASHAMED'

Days before Hans was arraigned in court, detectives from Directorate of criminal Investigations raided their Kitui home and ransacked every room looking for the children who were staying with the couple.

While admitting to being deeply ashamed of the negative publicity, Ms Hans says she does not regret marrying the Dutch national because he promised to take care of her despite their age difference.

"Marriage is for better or for worse. Here is a foreigner whom I've stayed with for 10 years now facing grave charges. The entire country, including my home village, maybe against him but I've no choice other than to stick with him," she says.

Rachel says she can't confirm or deny the child abuse charges but defends her husband as a humble man who may have been a victim of blackmail by women out to extort him.

"I don't know what happened to him before he came to Kenya because I've never visited Netherlands since we married," she says.

The mother of one, a seven-year-old girl, vows to continue taking care of children from poor backgrounds.

The couple is currently constructing a two-storey house that can be seen a distance away from the Kwa Vonza-Kanyangi Road in Kitui Rural Constituency, dwarfing other buildings around.

At the Kitui home, Rachel keeps two dairy cows, several hybrid goats and hundreds of chickens in the two-acre compound.

Adjacent the main house, she has a one-acre maize farm whose harvest she uses to feed the several children who live in their home.

Hans visits his Kitui wife at least twice every month and stays up to two weeks. But he hardly interacts with other villagers.

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