Conductor who killed passenger escapes death on appeal

A matatu conductor will serve seven years in jail for killing a passenger who differed with him over fare balance.

David Gatembo Mbeti was lucky to have escaped death sentence after a successful appeal.


He was accused of killing Antonius Odhiambo, a welder in Athi River, Machakos County, on January 8, 2011.

The court heard that on the fateful night, Mr Odhiambo and his colleague, Absalom Otieno, boarded a matatu at Mlolongo at about 7pm, heading home in Pipeline estate.

According to Mr Otieno, his colleague gave Mr Mbeti Sh200 for fare and expected a balance of Sh160.

However, the conductor allegedly returned Sh60, stating that he had been handed a Sh100 note.

A scuffle ensued and Mr Mbeti pulled out a screw-driver and stabbed Mr Odhiambo on the leg.

He unfortunately bled to death.


After hearing the case, High Court Judge Nicholas Ombija (now retired) sentenced Mbeti to death.

According to the judge, Mbeti “did strike me as a person who is economical with the truth” and that he was telling a lie to save his skin.

“I find as a fact that it is the screw-driver that accused had in his possession that caused the fatal blow to the body of the deceased,” the judge ruled.

Mbeti appealed against the decision pointing to the fact that the prosecution relied to the evidence of a sole witness— Mr Otieno— and who was drunk when the incident happened.

Court of Appeal Judges Asike Makhandia, William Ouko and Agnes Murgor said that from totality of the evidence tendered by the prosecution, they were not satisfied that Mbeti planned to kill Mr Odhiambo.

“The fact that the appellant stabbed the deceased on the knee as opposed to critical areas such as the chest, stomach and head, point to the fact that the intention of the appellant was not to kill but to disentangle himself from the grip of the appellant,” the judges observed.

The judges quashed the sentence and entered a conviction for the offence of manslaughter and ordered him to serve seven years in prison, which takes effect from 2015, when he was sentenced.


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