Court frees Muite guard over dagger
A Nairobi magistrate yesterday freed the bodyguard of a politician arrested two years ago for carrying a sword in public. While freeing James Njoroge Wangai, the magistrate said that the prosecution failed to prove that he was armed with the sword with intent to cause harm. The magistrate agreed with the defence counsel Evans Ondieki saying that Wangai would have defended himself that carrying the weapon was part of his culture and which has been protected by the Constitution under Article 11.
The said Article allows Kenyans to express their culture and if certain cultures allow them to carry certain paraphernalia during festivities, they should be permitted. Wangai, who was additional bodyguard to politician Paul Muite was arrested on August 27 at Uhuru Park during the promulgation of the new constitution. He defended himself that he was dressed in the attire to celebrate the new constitution.
The bodyguard was arrested just as he was about to sit in the main dais. The police alleged that it was a security breach and he could not explain why he was carrying the dagger. The prosecution added that Wangai carried the dagger without authority. But in the ruling, the senior resident magistrate M.A. Opondo said that it was upon the prosecution to table evidence that the accused person, while executing his duties as a bodyguard, required a licence but had none.
“It was incumbent prosecution to tell the court the provisions of the law that require such licence and not leave it to court to come up with a law that does not exist,” said the court. The court added that Wangai did not use the dagger in an offensive way and that his reasonable excuse was to protect his master if need arose.
The magistrate said it would be a waste of judicial time to put Wangai on his defence only for him to tell the court which tribe he was and as part of his culture, which is provided for in the constitution, allowed him to express himself the way he did during the celebrations. The magistrate concluded that suspicion should not be a basis for charging an accused person.