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Sonko pays fine for jailed 100-year-old granny

A 100-year-old woman who started serving a three-month prison term last week for contempt of court has finally been set free.

Mrs Margaret Ngima was released from the Embu Women’s Prison after Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko paid a Sh100,000 fine imposed on her.

Mr Pius Njeru Pinye, the coordinator of the Sonko Rescue Team in central and eastern Kenya, paid the fine on behalf of the senator. The elderly woman and her two jobless sons had failed to raise the money.

Mrs Ngima was jailed for failing to honour a court order to allocate two acres of her land to an individual who successfully claimed adverse possession.

“I saw the story in a newspaper and I was touched. I wondered why such an old woman would be jailed for contempt of court. I called the Embu court and paid the Sh100,000 through M-Pesa. I have the receipt with me,” said Mr Sonko.

#SAVEJAILED100YRGRANNY

Kenyans on Twitter, using the hashtag #SaveJailed100yrGranny, condemned the sentence.

100-year -old granny Mrs Margaret Ngima. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO
100-year -old granny Mrs Margaret Ngima. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO

Kenyans online said it was “immoral” and “shameful” to jail a 100-year-old woman. Many felt it was unfair to imprison such an elderly woman for contempt of court yet some individuals named in big corruption scandals walk free.

Lawyer Ekuru Aukot was among Kenyans who expressed their shock regarding the imprisonment. “#SaveJailed100yrGranny because the real land thieves are free to steal more land from the vulnerable,” he tweeted.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr tweeted: “The million-dollar question is whether the judge now believes that the contempt is purged! Impunity by the courts.”

Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen tweeted: “It is immoral and wrong for any court of law to do this to a 100-yr-old woman.”

CONTEMPT OF COURT

“I am sure the granny doesn’t know what contempt of court is,” @krissmoris tweeted.

“It is wrong because there are several criminals who break the law and they are not jailed. Why do you jail such an old woman, who has not killed anyone or stolen anything? If she has no lawyer, we will provide her with one and get to the bottom of this. We will also ask the authorities to investigate everyone involved,” said Senator Sonko

The 1997 land case was filed by Mr Justa Wawira, who was claiming adverse possession of property owned by Mrs Ngima’s family. The court declared that Mr Wawira had an ownership right.

There were reports that Embu Governor Martin Wambora had paid Sh100,000 for the release of the elderly woman, who had been in prison for the past nine days. The governor is said to have engaged lawyer Wairimu Rugaita to pay the fine.

On Thursday, Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti announced that he would donate Sh100,000 to the elderly woman.

Additional reporting by Charles Wanyoro