Kenya: Drama in Court as Bomet Man is Confronted By His Daughter

29 October 2020

Tension was high at the High Court in Bomet on Monday as a carpenter, who allegedly doused his wife with petrol and burnt her, was charged with murder.

Robert Kipkorir Tonui was arraigned before Justice Roseline Korir. He denied the charge of murder.

After he took plea, his eldest daughter, 21, confronted him outside the courtroom, demanding to know why he killed her mother.

Tonui is accused of murdering his wife Emmy Chepkoech Mitei, a former deputy headteacher at Cheptalal Primary School.

Emmy sustained 97 per cent body burns in the attack and succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at Tenwek Mission Hospital.

Emmy, who was 45 years old at the time of her death, was buried at her home in Kobel Village on October 19. She left behind seven children.

The offence is alleged to have been committed on the night of October 7 in Seanin Village, Konoin constituency.

Tonui was arraigned in a courtroom packed with tense family members and curious members of the public with a Kericho-based advocate, Brian Langat, representing him.

Dressed in a black jacket zipped up to the neck, and a hood hanging on his back, Tonui, who is 50 years old, wore a blue mask that covered half of his face.

He spoke only twice when asked the language he preferred to use and while answering to the charge preferred against him by the State, which carries a life sentence upon conviction.

Unlike when he appeared in a Sotik court shaken and unkempt following his arrest a week after being on the run, Tonui was well groomed with his thinning hair neatly combed.

When the charge was read to him after prosecutor George Mureithi tabled in court a medical report that said the suspect underwent a mental test and was confirmed to be of sound mind, he looked directly at the court clerk.

Tonui denied the charge and his lawyer made an application for his release on bail.

But the prosecutor opposed the plea, saying Tonui was a flight risk and that tension was still high in the village where the alleged murder was committed.

"Releasing the suspect on bail will pose a risk to his life as tension is still high in Seanin village where the crime was committed. Two of the witnesses are the accused's children and there are high chances he will interfere with them if released," Mr Mureithi argued.

Justice Korir directed that the suspect be held at the local prison until November 12 when a probation report on the suitability of his release on bond will be tabled in court.

After the court session, drama ensued outside the courtroom when the deceased's eldest daughter, Anita Chelangat, wailed uncontrollably and hurled insults at her father.

As soon as Tonui was whisked out of the courtroom after taking plea, he was confronted by relatives led by Anita, her sisters and brothers-in-law.

With his head downcast and a mask hiding his facial reaction the suspect, without saying a word, boarded the waiting police vehicle.

Tonui's daughter was pulled away by relatives and taken outside the court precincts to the main road some 30 metres away and was put in a relative's vehicle where she collapsed on the front seat.

Anita was restrained in the vehicle until the police vehicle ferrying her father to the local prison, some 400 metres away, sped off.

"Why did you kill our mother? Why did you make us part orphans after all the years of psychological torture? Who will take care of us? Her spirits will hound you to the end," Anita shouted as members of the public and court orderlies surged to inquire what the drama was all about.

During Emmy's funeral, relatives said that on the fateful day, elders and local administrators had tried to reconcile the couple but Tonui declined to participate in a meeting at his home.

He allegedly later followed his wife to her parents' home where he attacked her.

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