It was like the proverbial biblical teaching of the last days when two people will be standing together, but one will be taken away while the other will remain. Journalist Jacqueline Maribe and her fiancé, Joseph Irungu alias Jowie, sat together in the dock yesterday, as they have done several times before. But this time their fate of tasting freedom after more than three weeks in custody, with Ms Maribe at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison and Mr Irungu at the Industrial Area Remand Prison, lay in the hands of Justice James Wakiaga. The two have been charged with the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani on the night of September 19. In less than 30 minutes, Justice Wakiaga had delivered the punch that broke the cord joining the two lovers by releasing Maribe while sending Irungu back to prison pending their trial. What followed was a contrasting scene from the two lovers and their families. Irungu and his relatives broke into tears, his mother wailing as soon as Justice Wakiaga delivered the ruling. Maribe could not hold back tears of joy, her relatives and friends broke into song and dance, as her lawyers moved with speed to deposit the Sh1 million cash bail to secure her freedom.
Wakiaga said Irungu’s past record of military training, lack of known place of abode, possibility of fleeing the country, his mysterious lifestyle and the threat he possessed to witnesses informed his decision. He ruled that Irungu depended on Maribe and had nothing of his own in the country to depend on. “The picture that emerges from the prosecution evidence as set out in the case and the pre-bail report of the accused is that he is a male version of a slay queen and for lack of a better terminology, I will call a woman eater,” said Wakiaga. He said Irungu’s only known employment history was when he served as a security personnel in the Middle East, where he seemed to have many connections and was likely to escape and go back there.
The judge added that Irungu had no known fixed abode, had no assets and that he was likely to interfere with the evidence, having previously burnt the clothes he allegedly wore on the night he was accused of killing Monica. On claims of interfering with witnesses, judge ruled that Irungu’s conduct of posing with guns was enough evidence that he was a dangerous person who could cause fear and scare witnesses. Gunshot wound “If he is granted bail and left at large, he will likely have access to guns and scare the witnesses who will genuinely become apprehensive to testify against a person they see holding guns. That will cause fear and interfere with the cause of justice,” ruled Wakiaga. He added that the prosecution had proved its claim that Irungu was suicidal by shooting himself in the left shoulder, and that his security could only be guaranteed if he was kept in custody, where he would receive treatment for the gunshot wound. Maribe’s minimal connection with Monica’s murder and good conduct during the investigation period was what saved her from a long stay in custody as Wakiaga ruled that there were no compelling reasons to deny her bail. The journalist also has her five-year-old son to thank for her release, as the judge considered the welfare of her child as a reason to grant bail.
“She is a single mother of a young child who needs her presence. The law gives the mother a lot of responsibility of bringing up a child and it is only fair if she stays with the child during the period of her trial to teach him how to become a better citizen,” ruled Wakiaga. The judge added that being a well-known television personality with many connections and strong family ties, there was no likelihood of Maribe skipping bail. According to Wakiaga, Maribe’s only crime, as per the prosecution evidence, was that she was in love with Irungu and that her association with high-profile individuals would not make her interfere with the case. “She is so sure of her innocence that if convicted, she believes her crime will be to love Irungu. The court takes notice that love can cause people to do anything just like Adam who agreed to eat a fruit from his wife despite being aware of God’s command not to eat the fruit,” said Wakiaga. He granted Maribe a cash bail of Sh1 million with three sureties of the same amount but with tough conditions that she must meet or risk having the bail cancelled. The case will be heard on June 18 to 27, 2019.