A man who was in a mob that killed a theft suspect is facing the hangman’s noose after the High Court found him guilty of murder.
Victor Ochieng will pay for the sins of the others in the crowd who decided to take the law into their own hands, beating Peter Onyango to death for allegedly stealing a cow in Karapul, Siaya county.
Witnesses in the case testified that the mob had an estimated 30 people. They pointed out that Ochieng was seen with fuel as he prepared to set Mr Onyango on fire.
The police arrested Ochieng’ after the owner of the stolen cow, Roslyn Oketch, and a neighbor, Dan Ayoo, identified him as one of the people who beat up the victim.
The incident took place on the afternoon of April 26, 2014. Mr Ayoo told the court that on the fateful day, he had gone to inquire from Ms Oketch about her stolen cow.
While at Oketch’s home, three motorbikes arrived, one of them carrying both the accused and the victim, whose hands were tied behind his back.
The accused and the others started beating the victim, demanding that he produce the cow they accused him of stealing.
“The crowd grew and when the victim’s stepfather, Richard Were, tried to intervene, they threatened to torch him too,” said Ayoo.
High Court judge David Majanja heard that the owner of the cow had paid the mob Sh5,000 to kill Onyango but she denied the allegations. However, she, confirmed that the accused was in the crowd.
The investigating officer, Thomas Mulagoli, told the court that Onyango’s death was as a result of mob justice and that he only managed to arrest Ochieng’.
The accused denied any involvement in the death. He claimed that on the fateful date, he was at his place of work in Siaya town when he received information that there was an incident in his home area.
According to Ochieng’, on reaching his village, he found the victim under assault by a mob. He testified that he tried to stop the mob but failed. After the mob left, he said he assisted in taking the victim to hospital.
But Justice Majanja ruled that Ochieng’ was properly identified, noting that he was equally to blame for the death even though it was done by a crowd.
“So long as the accused participated in beating the victim in association with others, he is considered to have shared a common intention to kill,” he ruled.