An altercation, a bottle of pesticide, one death, two escapes and three concurrent sentences could better explain the situation a woman and two children found themselves in.
Halima Sheilla Bwakali will have to serve a 15-year jail term after she was found guilty of killing her own daughter, attempting to kill her son and attempted suicide.
On December 23, 2018, Halima Sheilla Bwakali was involved in a heated argument with her step-mother after Halima’s lost Sh2,000 in their house.
Her step-mother and step-brothers ganged up and told her to pack all her belongings and leave their house at Kisa village, Khwisero sub-county in peace.
Angered by the betrayal of own family, Halima decided to end her life and that of her two children.
After the mother left for church, Halima rushed to a nearby agrovet, bought a bottle of diaxonal pesticide commonly used to control pests and forced her daughter, 6 and son, 4 to ingest the chemical.
She also ingested the chemical and left to a neighbour’s house, perhaps not to see her children die.
Besides the lost money, the court was told that the step-mother had complained Halima’s alcoholic behavior.
At the neighbour’s house, Halima is said to have been offered food but she declined to eat.
Instead, she started vomiting profusely making the neighbour to be skeptical. Halima then revealed that she had ingested poison and given it to her two children.
Upon reaching to their house, the minors were on the floor, foaming at the mouth.
The three were rushed to the nearby Mwihila District Hospital where the daughter, Rispah Linda was pronounced dead.
Halima and her son, (Wycliffe Oparanya) survive death by a whisker after they received specialised treatment at Kakamega County General Hospital.
When she was discharged from the hospital, she stared at three charges, two at the magistrate court and one in the High Court.
On January 31, she was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng’ for a charge of attempted murder and attempted suicide, she pleaded guilty to both charges.
The Magistrate ordered the probation officers to file a pre-sentencing report to help in meting out the offence and passing a justifiable sentence.
The report filed in court proposed that the accused be given a non-custodial sentence to enable Halima undergo psychological counselling and get a job empowerment.
However, Mr Ochieng’ noted that, although the report was favourable for her, the offence was grave and attracted a deterrent sentence.
Consequently, the magistrate overlooked the recommendations and slapped her with seven-year sentence for attempted murder and one year sentence for attempted suicide, sentences running concurrently.
Halima was later charged at the High Court with murder, particulars being that she killed her daughter on the material day.
She pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared before Judge Jesse Njagi.
Perturbed by the confessions, Justice Njagi asked whether the accused understood what she was pleading guilty to, Halima maintained her plea of guilty.
She was informed that the charge attracted a maximum of death sentence when one is found guilty, further, the accused maintained her position.
She was given a week to go and think of the gravity of the charges with the help of a pro-bono lawyer, Allan Otsyeno she was allocated.
On February 13, she was arraigned and insisted on her plea of guilty, consequently, she was convicted on her own plea of guilty.
Her lawyer asked for a lenient sentence saying the accused was a single parent with a son who may suffer lack of parental care if she is given a custodial sentence.
Mr Otsyeno maintained that the accused was remorseful for the offence which she committed out of rejection at her home adding that she was willing to reform.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) through State Prosecutor Paul Juma asked the court to treat the accused as a first time offender saying there were no previous criminal records.
Yesterday, Justice Njagi while sentencing her said he had put into consideration of the mitigation by the accused person’s lawyer but noted the offence was serious.
He said that the offence brought to end an innocent life adding that a non-custodial sentence was unsuitable for the offence.
“The maximum sentence for murder is death sentence. I, however, don’t think that sentence is warranted in this case.”
“The main consideration in the circumstances of such a case is to balance the need to correct the offender while at the same time considering the gravity the accused has committed. I consider a prison sentence to be appropriate in the circumstances and sentence her to 15 years imprisonment,” said Justice Njagi.
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