- The Magistrate said there is no allegation that Maweu was involved in any of the impugned acts.
- He said if her only sin is being the first respondent’s wife, then her continued detention would be unwarranted and unfair.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Shanzu Magistrate Court on Monday released Rhoda Maweu, the wife of cult leader Paul Mackenzie on Sh400,000 bond terms.
Maweu, who was first arrested on May 2, after being linked to the cult practices of her husband that led to the deaths of hundreds of people at Shakahola forest, had stayed behind bars for 62 days.
The state had planned to charge Mackenzie, his wife and 28 other co-accused persons with murder, counselling and aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud, and money laundering.
They are currently being held at Malindi GK Prison as state continues to investigate their connection to the deaths of over 337 people whose bodies have been exhumed from shallow graves in Shakahola.
However, Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda, in his 39-page ruling Monday, said the state had failed to prove why Maweu should continue being held with the other accused persons.
Maweu was the only woman suspect being held in connection to the Shakahola deaths.
“Rhoda Mumbua Maweu is hereby released on a personal bond of Sh100,000 together with a bond of Sh300,000 with a surety of a similar amount,” ruled Shikanda.
However, the magistrate ordered that pending approval of her proposed surety, Maweu shall remain in custody.
She will now be held at Mtwapa police station until the bond is processed.
Further to the bond terms, Maweu will be required to visit a police station as may be directed by the investigators as and when required until the completion of the investigations.
According to Shikanda, Maweu had been arrested together with her two-year-old child, and there was a need for the minor to be medically examined to ascertain whether the child had been exposed to any form of neglect or abuse.
However, no report on the status of the child has been presented by the state in whatever form before the court and there was no affidavit in support of the extension of the detention period of Maweu.
“It would appear that her undoing was to be the first respondent’s (Mackenzie) wife. It is only mentioned that she is believed to have resided with the Mackenzie at Shakahola,” Shikanda said.
He added, “There is no allegation that she was involved in any of the impugned acts. If her only sin is being the first respondent’s wife, then her continued detention would be unwarranted and unfair.”
However, at the same time, the court granted the state’s application for an extension of custodial orders for Mackenzie and 16 others, who were first arraigned on May 2.
Mackenzie, who was arrested on April 15, has already spent more than 70 days in custody.
The Director of Public Prosecutions and the DCI had on June 2, after the expiry of the initial 30 days that the court had granted them to hold Mackenzie and co-accused, applied for the extension of custodial orders for another 60 days.
On Monday, Shikanda granted the orders, however, this will be from June 2, when the application was first made.
Therefore, Mackenzie and the team continue being in custody for another month.
On June 2, the DCI also arraigned another 12 suspects (making the total number of suspects 30) and asked their case to be enjoined with Mackenzie’s.
The DCI had also asked for 60 days to hold the additional suspect. However, one of the suspects; Joseph Juma Buyuka has since passed on.
“The additional respondents, with the exception of the seventh respondent already spent 30 days in custody. The law provides that in the first instance, the court can only grant a maximum of 30 days. That period is already spent,” ruled Shikanda.
He said since the period has expired owing to circumstances beyond the control of the state, the DCI will be given time to indicate whether they will require an extension and probably apply for such an extension.
“To that end, the respondents (except the seventh respondent) shall be detained in custody for a further three days to enable the state put its house in order,” Shikanda said.
All the suspects will be remanded at Malindi, Kilifi and Shimo La Tewa prisons at the discretion of the government, ruled the court.
They will be held separately from persons who are serving sentences or convicted and in isolation from one another as far as is practicable.
Shikanda said the suspects while in custody shall at all times be treated in a humane manner and with respect for their inherent human dignity.
During the time of detention, they will be granted reasonable access to their advocate and family or any other person whose assistance will be necessary.
The access will include the right to communicate privately with the advocate, they will be accorded medical examination, treatment and healthcare whenever such need arises.