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Monday, 18 April 2011

The Anchor March-April 2011 - Lead Story



Fr Makewa Trial begins...

Makewa wanted me 
dead, priest testifies

By BETTY MUNYITHYA

FINALLY,  the suspended Catholic Priest, Fr John Wambua Makewa is standing trial in a Makueni Court for attempting to murder his former bosom friend, Fr Fidelis Nzuki.
The first day of the trial before the Makueni Senior Resident Magistrate Mr. Joseph Karanja  gave indications that the trial has all the hall marks of a top notch movie as men of the cloth stood facing one another from the dock and witness box in a case of a relationship gone extremely sour.
Suspended Fr John Makewa leaving the 
Makueni Senior  Resident Magistrate's Court
 It emerged  that for once, the motive of the alleged shooting may finally come to the open. The first clue came as Defense Counsel for Fr Makewa-  Ms Catherine Kathambi Kianji hinted of an unidentified woman who may have been a cause of dis-ease and conflict between the two priests.
Fr Makewa is charged with attempted murder of Fr Nzuki  on the night of March 20,2010 in Wote Township. Police Inspector Joseph Katumo is prosecuting the case while a Nairobi Lawyer Victor Asiyo is holding brief for Fr Nzuki. The offence is alleged to have been committed in the official Residence of the Priest in charge of the Wote Parish, which the court will visit be-fore the case resumes. Makewa has denied the charge.
Kathambi’s sensational clue came as she interrogated the contents of a P3 form that doctors at The Mater Hospital filled during the treatment of Fr Nzuki. She sought to know why the HIV status of the victim was not indicated in the report and if Fr Nzuki had disclosed his status to the doctors treating him.
Her freak insinuations that Fr Nzuki was allegedly HIV Positive appeared to irritate the apparent catholic faithful who filled the court-room as there were some clear voices of disapproval of her line of thought.
The magistrate derailed the lawyer’s line of cross examination when he told the lawyer to drive her points directly and avoid going round in circles. As she retreated, the lawyer nevertheless indicated that she would be re-turning to that theme at later stages of the trial, a signal that there would be fire-works in coming days. Be that as it may, Fr Nzuki re-butted allegations that he was HIV Positive or that he was using anti-retroviral drugs for his treatment.
In effect, the lawyer indicated that defense evidence would revolve around the issue of the alleged and yet unnamed woman.
Before the trial opened, Ms Kathambi made an application to have the matter resolved by elders- or under some arrangement of Canon Law, claiming that bringing a criminal suit against a priest amounted to exposing the church unduly. But the application was rejected and Fr Nzuki took the witness box as the first prosecution witness in this epic trial. She appeared set to derail the hearing as she sought time to study a ballistic report on two firearms licensed to Fr Makewa. But the mag-is-trate appeared unwilling to be dis-tracted from hearing the case, saying that witnesses were set for the case.
Fr Makewa was hauled to court after months of foot dragging by the State as police reluctantly investigated the case. Pressure from the Church and sections of the media resulted in a decision by the State to put Fr Makewa, arguably one of the most influential priests in Ukambani on trial.
Days before the arraignment, Bishop Martin Kivuva of the Machakos Diocese suspended Fr Makewa for two years, barring him from wearing priestly garments and celebrating mass in any catholic establishment in the country in a letter circulated to all catholic installations, dioceses and churches in Kenya. It is the first step the church has taken in preparation to excommunicate Fr Makewa from the Church
However when the hearing begun, Fr Makewa sat in the dock, defiantly bedecked in priestly regalia and for the whole period avoided direct eye contact with his alleged victim.
Fr Nzuki opened his testimony with an account of his workplace, his relationship with the accused and his home area. He said he was a priest working at the Machakos Catholic Mission and knew Fr Makewa as his friend whom he came to know when Fr Makewa came for his ordination.  He told the court that he had no known enmity with the accused prior to the incident.
Father Nzuki said he occasionally visited the Mission  where he spend nights previously and on that fateful night he had arrived from Nairobi having passed through Machakos Catholic Mission where he left his car and boarded a Matatu for Wote.
He said he arrived at Makueni catholic Mission at around 6:30pm and joined Father Makewa and two more colleagues  Fr. Michael Mutuku and Fr. Boniface Kioko and an Ex Seminarian Boniface Mutua.
Both Fr. Mutuku and Fr. Kioko are based in Makueni where they worked under Makewa while the seminarian was visiting Fr Makewa.
 They had supper and he went to sleep early since the following day after service, he was to travel to Strathmore University College to sit for his accounting exam.
He said he was awoken by gun shots at around 4:15am and woke up his colleague, a seminarian by the name Boniface with whom they shared the room that night. He dressed up quickly and shortly, Makewa on knocked their door, a long firearm, in his hands, and told them that thieves had invaded the mission.
Fr Makewa allegedly shot twice outside the window before telling the two to follow him to his bedroom.
The witness said Father Makewa handed him a  gun and three rounds of ammunition while in his room and instructed him to keep them and await further instructions.
They returned to the room leading to the dining room and he was ordered by  Makewa to crawl to the door leading to corridor to open the door, so that Fr Makewa could gain view of the alleged thieves.
It was as Fr Nzuki opened the door that a shot tore through his hand. He testified that he informed Fr Makewa that he had shot him, but shortly af-ter-wards, more gunshots rung out and hit him
Nzuki told the Makueni Senior Resident Magistrate Mr. Joseph Karanja, that he realized that Father Makewa wanted to kill him when he shot him five more times on his thighs de-spite having alerted him that he had shot his right hand.
“I told father Makewa that he had shot me on my hand but ignored and went ahead to shoot me five more times while I was lying on the floor next to the door leading to the corridor,” Father Nzuki told a packed court.
On cross examination by the lawyer Kathambi, Fr. Nzuki  was at pains to explain how his best friend wanted to kill him.
The hearing date was set on  26th May  2011 to pro-vide enough time for the court, lawyer and the plaintiff visit the alleged scene of the shooting.
Father Makewa is out on kshs 50,000 bond.

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