One-day Sentence For Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband

March 12, 2021

A 49-year-old woman who last December killed her husband in an act of self-defense has earned her freedom in a plea-bargain deal.

In a landmark ruling made on International Women’s Day, a Siaya court ordered the accused Trufena Ndonga Aswani to serve a one-day non-custodial sentence after her case was reduced from murder to manslaughter.

“She had no voice. She was silenced into accepting beatings to be her normal life until she nearly lost her own life. She is lucky to be alive,” Justice Roselyn Aburili noted.

In the case, the court heard that Ms Ndonga had endured immense suffering at the hands her abusive husband James Oyengo Obochi who constantly threatened to kill her over a Title Deed.

On a Fateful Day

On the fateful day(December 14), the deceased had returned home late after a drinking spree as was his norm, and was served with dinner.

After his meal, Oyengo picked a quarrel demanding to be given a title deed for land his father had bequeathed Trufena to protect the family from ending up in the cold. The father was wary of Oyengo selling the property due to his alcoholism.

“She was trusted by her father-in-law to protect family land from the deceased predator, as the deceased had sold off his portion of land bequeathed to him by his late father,” the judge noted.

High Court judge Roselyne Aburili

When Trufena declined, her husband dashed to their bedroom and returned with a machete before attempting to hack her.

Trufena, however, managed to overpower Oyengo, seized the machete, and turned the tables, slashing Oyengo several times.

She then dragged the body to a neighbour’s farm some 200 metres away and covered it with grass before returning to her house.

A neighbour spotted the body the following day and reported to the village elder, eventually leading to Trufena’s arrest and confession.

When she was arraigned in court on January 27, Trufena pleaded guilty but said she did not intend to kill him.

The court had initially entered a plea of not guilty on grounds that her admission to the murder charge had been equivocal. A plea of guilty was later entered after the charge was reduced to manslaughter.

While delivering a ruling on Wednesday, Judge Aburili noted the woman was often beaten by a man who never provided for the family but she persevered and neither took revenge nor deserted him for her own safety.

He Was HIV Positive While She was Negative

The court also noted Trufena stuck with her husband despite the fact that he was HIV positive while she was negative.

“That although she discovered that the deceased was HIV positive while she was negative, she hung on to him and that at times he used to hide his anti-retroviral drugs then threaten to kill her and her child,” she said.

Trufena also took care of his four children from two previous wives who ran away as a result of violence and abuse.

Judge Aburili said the accused deserved a non-custodial sentence to enable her get counselling for the traumatic experience she underwent prior to, during and after the unfortunate death of her husband.

The Judge said Trufena would be remembered as a butchered, battered, dehumanized and violated woman who had no voice and who persevered through the domestic violence meted on her by her late husband who was described as irresponsible and violent.

“Secondly, she will be remembered as a person who killed her husband in the process of defending her own life” the judge said.

“Accordingly, considering her mitigations and circumstances under which the offence was committed, and appreciating that every life is precious, I sentence the accused person Truphena Ndonga Aswani to serve non-custodial sentence of one day imprisonment, to last at the end of this court session.”

Justice Aburili explained her ruling would also enable other victims who have suffered similar fate to have their voices heard.

“Run for your lives, both women and men who are abused. There is no love that can never be lost. Yet love should never be lost by killing one another. Find an escape route to safety. Do not condone violence being meted on you,” Justice Roselyne Aburili said.

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