Court delivers judgment two years after suspect leaves jail

Thursday April 08 2021
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Jane Ndichu Nyiha (centre) being led to the cells at the High Court in Kampala after the ruling. She was found guilty of killing David Musunga in 2010. Photo | Abubaker Lubowa.

By Anthony Wesaka

Court of Appeal yesterday delivered a judgment in a murder case two years after the killer completed a nine-year-jail sentence and left prison.

In 2010, Jane Ndichu Nyiha, a Kenyan national and student of Kampala International University (KIU), Kampala campus, stabbed to death her boyfriend, David Ivita Musunga.

Ndichu was a student of Public Administration at the time of the incident while Musunga was studying Mass Communication at the same university.

Ndichu was arrested and charged with murder. Two years later, she was convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter and handed a nine-year jail term.

 She later appealed the sentence, reasoning that Musunga had a history of mental illness associated with suicidal thoughts.

Ndichu also argued that on the fateful day in 2010, the deceased stabbed himself in the chest, ending his own life.

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Although Ndichu fulfilled all the requirements for her appeal, she remained in jail for nine years as she waited for the judgment and was later released from Luzira Prison in 2019.

Ndichu’s lawyers led by Mr Gawaya Tegulle, during their submissions before court, said although their client had already served her nine-year jail term, there was need to hear her appeal and clear their client  of the crime.

However, Court of Appeal justices including Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Catherine Bamugemereire and Christopher Madrama delivered their judgment in the case yesterday.

“Given the totality of the circumstances surrounding this case, the domestic abuse suffered by the appellant (Ndichu), her reconciliatory conduct after the event and the compassion and forgiveness she received from the immediate family of the deceased, who were the immediate victims, we find that even if the appellant, had been found guilty of murder, which she has not been, she would have attracted a more lenient sentence,” the justices ruled.

“Consequently, we hereby confirm the appellant’s conviction of manslaughter contrary to Section 187 and the sentence of the nine years imprisonment. This appeal is herewith dismissed,” they added.

The justices recommended that in future sentences passed by courts of law in respect to domestic violence  cases such as this should have a clause of mandatory counselling of the parties involved in order to avoid future re-occurrence.

Background
The case

According to the prosecution, David Ivita Musunga and Jane Ndichu Nyiha, lived in a small rented room in Kansanga, near Kampala International University (KIU).

On March 10, 2010, Musunga, returned to their room at 4am, staggering and drunk after a night out with friends.
When he knocked on the door, Ndichu, who was inside, refused to open for him which made him to go and sleep at a neighbour’s house.

In the morning, a more sober but angry Musunga returned to their room whereupon a scuffle ensued in which he sustained a deep cut between the collar bone and the chest. He later succumbed to the injury.

The cause of  death was medically noted as hemorrhagic shock following trauma to the right lung inflicted by a sharp object.
At least two litres of blood was found in the lungs following the stabbing.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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