Kenya

Court finds two guilty of using witchcraft to con woman Sh33m

Court finds two guilty of using witchcraft to con woman Sh33m

Shanzu Law Courts where the accused will be sentenced.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

After losing her husband in 2008, Ms Rose Nafula Okumu decided that she needed to start life afresh in Belgium.

She did not want to leave behind her property worth over Sh70 million that she had inherited from her late husband Frank Carlel Bullens, so she decided to sell it before relocating to Europe.

The apartments were located in Diani, Kwale County. However, the buyers did not come as quickly as she had expected despite advertising the property for close to two years. Thus, a friend advised her to seek the help of a witch doctor.

She was connected to Mbarak, a witch doctor, by Musa Mohamed Naaman, who was to give her charms to assist in the quick sale of the apartments.

They visited Mbarak’s offices where Naaman assessed the situation after reading her palms, and concluded that she should give a cow for the ritual.

She was then taken into a house where lots of money were dropped and told the money belonged to a genie.

She then started giving the witch doctor money so that the apartment could be sold.

Luckily, a buyer showed up in September 2012, and the apartments were sold for Sh55 million. The transaction was facilitated by an advocate, who would then transfer to her the money.

From her account, it appears that the visits to the witch doctor created some confusion in her mind and after receiving the money, she gave Naaman Sh30 million.

Bamburi

She also did an online transfer from her account to that of Nassir Musa Mohamed, who was introduced to her as Naaman’s cousin since he (Naaman) did not have a bank account.

Naaman told her that they were building a house for her in Bamburi, so she continued sending him money whenever he requested for more.

During her many journeys to a cave, where she met statues of snakes and some Asian men, she changed her mind and shelved the idea of relocating to Belgium and decided to settle in Kenya.

It is at this cave where she would withdraw money from her bank account and take it to the witch doctor for sacrifice. After spending all her money this way, she came back to her senses.

Naaman and Nassir disappeared, the witch doctor also went underground. Left with no option, Ms Okumu reported the matter to the police.

Investigations began, and in 2017, Naaman and Nassir were arrested and arraigned in a Shanzu court with several counts of cheating and obtaining money by false pretenses.

They were charged that on September 13, 2012, at Nyali estate, they obtained Sh12.7 million by pretending they could build Ms Okumu a house.

They were also accused of obtaining Sh5 million from the woman by falsely pretending that they would multiply it to Sh58million.

In her testimony, the woman told Senior Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo that after spending all the money, she did not see any house or the suspects.

She said that initially, the witch doctor had agreed to help her to attract customers at a cost of Sh25,000, which she paid but she did not know how she ended up losing Sh33 million.

“Mbarak came to my business and exorcised the witchcraft. I found assorted horns, animal skins, and other paraphernalia. I believed Mbarak was a super witch doctor,” she said

Ms Okumu testified that she later discovered that it was Naaman who exorcised the house and that Mbarak read the books while leading him to extract the paraphernalia.

“The first day I heard voices but none of them came from the accused persons. I met a genie at the caves, it was a human wearing red clothes. It was Naaman who took me there,” she said.

She testified that the last time she met the genie and the accused persons, she was assured that the house was ready but she has never been shown the house.

“When I met Naaman, I got mentally mixed up and lost interest in going to Europe. I, therefore, changed my plans of going to Belgium so that I could settle with the genie,” she said, adding that Naaman used to give her concoctions to drink.

Bank statement produced in court shows the woman transferred or withdrew Sh33 million. Sergeant Johnson Wambulwa, who investigated the matter, confirmed the figure, adding that the woman had sold three motor vehicles and gave all the money to Naaman.

In their defence, the suspects denied ever obtaining money from the woman. Naaman said came to know Ms Okumu when he visited Mbarak and found her there.

He said it was here that he learned the woman had a property she wanted to sell. He connected her to a buyer and never followed up on what transpired after that.

“I was then called while in Tanzania and informed that the police were looking for me over Ms Okumu’s lost money,” he said, adding that he was not paid his commission after the property was sold.

Nassir also denied receiving any money from the woman, or ever meeting her and Naaman, who he said he only met at the police station.

Lost money

He also said he became aware of the lost money when he was called by the police. “I felt bad that Sh7 million was withdrawn from my account without my knowledge,” he said.

They were led in their defense by their lawyer Eugene Wangila.

Naaman and Nassir were found guilty and have been convicted for defrauding the woman.

Magistrate Odhiambo said that the case, as narrated by Ms Okumu is funny and sad, and wondered how an adult, presumably of sound mind got entangled in a labyrinth of witchcraft driven by greed any folly.

“She got exposed to merciless crooks who dangled utopian wishes to her which she swallowed hook, line, and sinker and ended up (almost) destitute,” noted the magistrate

Mr Odhiambo added “someone would ask: How can a normal person sell a property at Sh55 million and lose it all in bits until she is dry? The belief in spirits is not shared by many but those who believe in spirits do so to the extent that they can never be convinced otherwise,”

Naaman and Nassir are waiting for sentencing. The court has, however, given them 10 days to reach an agreement with Ms Okumu, on how she will recover the money, failure to which he will jail  them. The sentencing will be done on September 24.