Felix Mbithi, 24, a teacher at Kai Primary School in Makueni County who was sentenced to 34 years in jail for defiling three boys. [Philip Muasya, Standard]
In a hushed tone, Dominic, 15, explains the sexual ordeal he underwent in the hands of his most trusted minder — his teacher. As the interview progresses, his voice trails off. He lowers his head and a tear drops.
“He called me one evening and ordered me to remain behind as others went home. He said he had an assignment for me,” the boy narrates after composing himself.
When he walked to the staff room that evening in February 2019, the unsuspecting boy had no idea what would strike him. After ensuring that they were alone, the teacher — Felix Mbithi — immediately closed the door behind him.
“He unzipped his trousers and told me to suck his organ. I refused and he slapped me,” says the boy. The Standard Seven pupil explained that the teacher then overpowered him and sodomised him.
SEE ALSO :Man charged with sodomising boy, 12“He ordered me to rush home and never report to anybody as that would attract a severe punishment from him,” says Dominic says.
His innocence and silence provided a perfect opportunity for the 24-year-old teacher to prey on him more. The boy says the teacher violated him three more times.
Dominic was not the only victim. Elijah, 17, who sat his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam this year, was also another of Mbithi’s victims.
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He remembers when the teacher asked him to remain behind during the April holidays when they were going for remedial lessons in the school. And just like Dominic, he led him to the staff room and sodomised him.
“He called me two other times but I refused. I then started dodging him,” Elijah says.
By the time the pervert’s cover was blown in June this year, he had assembled a pool of boys from Standard Six to Eight, whom he would prey on either early in the mornings or late in the evenings during school days, according to the victims we spoke to.
The boys revealed that most of the victims were either too scared or ashamed to speak out.
For the case of Elijah and another 14-year-old boy from the same school, Mbithi of Kai Primary School was last month found guilty and sentenced to 15 and nine years, respectively, by Makindu Law Courts.
And on Friday, the same court added Mbithi 10 years in the case of Dominic. The court noted that each of the cases was independent and so the convict will serve a total of 34 years in jail.
During cross examination, the boys told the court that the teacher was a known bully who would terrorise them during his lessons.
“He however offered to exempt some of us from his cane if we accepted his sexual advances. Because I feared him, I obliged,” Elijah said.
What gave out the teacher was that he accosted Dominic while grazing his family’s livestock near the school. The boy took off and narrated his ordeal to his cousin who immediately alerted his mother.
When summoned by his parents, the boy owned up, revealing names of three other boys who had also been violated. The parents then reported the matter at Makindu Police Station, leading to the arrest and subsequent prosecution of the teacher.
Offered safe forums
The rising cases of sexual violence against children in Makueni County has jolted Deputy Governor Adelina Mwau to launch a campaign dubbed ‘the sound of silence’ in which the children are offered safe forums to speak out about the violations meted out to them by adults.
Ms Mwau says this will ensure cases of defilement and sexual exploitation are exposed and the culprits prosecuted.
For instance, during the school holidays, Mwau, working with the Gender Department of the county government, created sessions where over 7,000 children aged between 10 and 17 from all the six sub-counties narrated the issues affecting them.
In these forums, the children were given pieces of paper to write down what bothered them.
“We wanted to create a safe space for our children to talk about their issues without fear. The aim was to identify the most critical and painful things the children undergo.
“We spent three days sifting through the messages and the issue of sexual violence and exploitation came out very strongly. It was mind boggling,” Mwau says.
The children identified pastors, teachers, fathers and close relatives as the top most sex pests.
It is from these messages that Mwau has identified a pool of ‘duty bearers’ ranging from pastors, priests, teachers, parents, chiefs, educationists and the police to join hands and find solutions.
“We want to have the duty bearers know what the children are saying and take responsibility,” she says.
To underscore the importance she attaches to protection of children, the deputy governor on Wednesday addressed headteachers of schools in Makueni, during the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) meeting in Mombasa where she displayed a photo gallery of the messages compiled from the children.
“On every dinner table, we prominently displayed the cards because we felt that was the easiest way to start the conversation on how to protect the children,” she says.
She says some of the cases have depressed her to date. She remembers a case of a one-year-old girl who underwent reconstructive surgery after being defiled by a 50-year-old man. The man was handed a life sentence by Kilungu Law Courts.
Another case is of a Form Three girl who developed fistula after being defiled by her father while she was in Standard Seven.
“It is very painful,” Mwau says.
The deputy governor thanks Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who has himself become a champion against gender-based violence (GBV).
This financial year, the Makueni County Assembly allocated Sh10 million for sensitisation programmes on the GBV.
To sex pests, Mwau has a warning: “Let them know that our children have spoken and we will no longer keep quiet. The law will catch up with them.”
The names of the victims have been changed to protect their identities.
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SodomyMakueni CountyFelix MbithiFelix Kalola Mbithi
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.