THE COURSE OF JUSTICE

One of my favourite past times in Wajir was whiling away time at the Law Courts.This was an utilitarian hobby because I had several friends working there who could buy choma at the nearby Prisons Canteen after the court adjourned.It was fun seeing the same buddies wearing legal stonefaces in the court room,yet the previous night we were shouting expletives at Nghamia club after marinating our livers with frothies.But that’s life in Norther Kenya.Someday I dropped by the court and found at the dock was a young chap who had been accused of doing ‘tabia mbaya’ with a goat .Forget the legal term for his act- they can be very descriptive.Something like performing indecent acts with an animal which is against Section 76 (i) of the Penal Code as read with the Animals Act 2006.Anyway,the fellow didn’t look like someone who would go down on a goat.But I wasn’t here to judge but to extract lunch from one of my buddies.After listening to the case for a while,I deduced that the fellow had no chance.One,he was a non local.Which meant that he had slim chance of his case being diverted to maslah system-the traditional Somali courts.Maslah system is an age old Somali judiciary which resolves complicated curses like murder in a way the High Court would envy.At the essence of maslah system are two things.One, the compensation of the family of the person who has been wronged.Two, the punishment is not meted on the individual but on his kinsmen.A win win situation.This doesnt happen in modern legal system because the course of justice often prevents it.Back to the guy of and his goat.When the veterinary doctor went on dock to give expert evidence,the guy’s fate was sealed.The vet told the court that there were signs that indeed,the goats private parts(you all know which word I am avoiding here) had been penetrated.The owner of the goat which had allegedly been defiled smiled knowingly.His one hundred or so clansmen broke into loud chatter.The court was called to order.After his expert evidence,the vet doctor folded his neat folder and sat down.The accused person’s lawyers shot up.He was a short smiling fellow,who did his things slowly but meticulously.‘You have told this court that the vulva of that goat showed signs of having been penetrated?’ He posed to the vet Doc. ‘Yes’.The Doc replied.’Were there any male goats around?’ The lawyer asked.’Yes’.The vet doc replied,not aware where this was leading to.’Is it possible to differentiate whether the goat was penetrated by a goat or by a human being?”No.’The vet doctor said.’No more questions your honour.’The lawyer then sat down.The prosecution had failed to prove beyond resonable doubt that the goat was penetrated by the man on the dock.The accused was set free.The goat’s owner and his 100 clansmen left the court downcast.I am sure the clansmen approached the young man to settle the case under maslah system because for that community, the course of justice in modern legal system is sometimes the cause of injustice.

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