Kenya: Death Row Convict Tastes Freedom After 19 Years Behind Bars

(file photo).
13 November 2019

A death row convict jailed in 2001 got a reprieve after the Makadara Law Court reviewed his sentence and handed him 19 years' sentence.

Chief Magistrate Heston Nyaga sentenced Joseph Kinyanjui Wainaina to 19 years' imprisonment backdated to October 2000 when he started his incarceration after he was charged.


Wainaina and others robbed shopkeeper Harrison Mwangi Kimotho in Kariandundu village, Nairobi on October 26, 2000 while armed with a pistol.

His accomplices were never arrested.

Wainaina was sentenced to hang on June 18, 2001 after he was convicted following successful prosecution. Wainaina has been at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for the period he has been behind bars.

He appealed in High Court the same year and lost. Wainaina lodged his second appeal at the Court of Appeal in April 2004, which he also lost.

The convict opted to apply for re-sentencing after the Supreme Court annulled the mandatory death sentence for convicts of capital offences.


Nyaga said he has considered the fact that although Wainaina and his accomplice were armed with a dangerous weapon, no death was caused during the robbery and if it is retribution of the convict, it has been done during the 19 years he has been in prison.

"Previously, the issue of the sentence for this offence did not require any debate since the assumption and the reasoning of the courts was that the "mandatory sentence" provided for was death," Nyaga said.

"After promulgation of the new constitution, the meting out of death sentence to convicts has been looked at from different a perspective."

Nyaga said he there are documents to show that the convict has gained some practical and educational knowledge that may assist him if he gets back to the society.

The magistrate also considered a social inquiry report of Wainaina. Members of public where he came from told probation officials that they are ready to receive him back home and don't see him as a threat.

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