Woman’s appeal against life sentence for molestation hits snag

A LADY from Morogoro Region, Shani Suleiman (38), is to remain behind bars for remainder of her life for repeatedly indecently assaulting a boy aged 12 years and permitting him to have carnal knowledge against the order of her nature.

This follows a decision of the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal under which Shani, the appellant, lodged to oppose decisions of the High Court and that of the trial court, the Resident Magistrates Court of Morogoro, regarding the matter.

Justices Stella Mugasha, Rehema Kerefu and Abraham Mwampashi held that the complaints advanced by the appellant against the findings of the two courts below were unfounded and, thus proceeded to dismiss them.

“We find and hold that the case against the appellant was proved beyond reasonable doubt and the first appellate Judge was justified to dismiss the appellant’s appeal. Consequently, we dismiss this appeal for being unfounded in its entirety,” they declared.

During hearing of the appeal, the appellant had complained that the prosecution case was not proved beyond reasonable doubt against her and the age of the victim boy at the time of giving evidence was not considered.

The appellant further contended that Section 127 (2) of the Evidence Act was not complied with before recording the evidence of the victim and that the evidence of the victim’s mother was nothing but a cooked story.

When determining the appeal, the justices started resolved the complaint regarding the age of victim, recalling the settled position of the law that the age of the victim in a court of law can be proved by a parent, victim, relative, medical practitioner or by production of Birth Certificate.

In the present case, they thoroughly went through the record of appeal and found that the mother of the victim testified that her child was 12 years old and she went further to mention his date of birth, while in his testimony, the victim also mentioned he was 12 years age.

“Thus, the age of the victim was not an issue before the trial court. It was first raised before the first appellate court and we agree with the findings made by the Judge. It is also our finding that the age of the victim was proved by the prosecution contrary to the appellant’s complaint,” the justices said.

Regarding the appellant’s complaint that section 127(2) of the Evidence Act was not observed before recording the victim’s evidence, they found the same unfounded with a consequential effect of it being dismissed having noted that the boy had promised to tell the truth during the trial.

In the main complaint that the charge against him was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, the appellant challenged the credibility of prosecution witnesses, including the victim boy.

The justices noted that the High Court while upholding the appellant’s conviction just like the trial court, found that the victim was a credible witness whose evidence could be acted upon even without corroboration, although that was not the case in the matter as his evidence was supported by others.

According to them, it is settled position that in sexual offence true evidence comes from the victim and in order to test that principle, they had an opportunity to closely examine the evidence of the victim.

“Without any reservation, we agree with the first appellate Judge that by looking at his testimony, the victim narrates clearly on how he was sexually assaulted by the accused on different occasions and last incident it was witnessed by (one of prosecution witnesses),” they said.

With such evidence on record, the justices were satisfied that the prosecution evidence proved the offence with which the appellant was charged. “We do not find any merit from the appellant’s complaint that (the victim’s mother) fabricated evidence against her,” the justices said.

The appellant, a lady, was charged before the Resident Magistrates Court of Morogoro at Morogoro with two counts of indecent assault of a boy and unnatural offence, contrary to sections 156 (1), (2) and 154(1) (c) of the Penal Code, respectively.

She was convicted in both counts and sentenced to life imprisonment in respect of indecent assault and 30 years imprisonment in respect of the count of unnatural offence. She was aggrieved by the decision of the trial court and thus unsuccessfully appealed to the High Court.

Between the year 2016 and January 2019, the victim endured an awful moment of his life as the appellant, on diverse dates, unlawfully and indecently assaulted him and permitted him to have carnal knowledge of her against the order of nature.

One day in 2013, the boy told her mother that the appellant was regularly soliciting him to have sexual intercourse with her. Having heard that, the mother arranged a trap with a friend so that they catch the appellant.

They made some arrangements and the friend went to the house of the victim’s mother house with a smartphone and hide in one of the rooms. Unknowingly, the appellant appeared and as usual she asked the victim if he wanted to have sex with her.

Immediately thereafter, the appellant made the necessary preparation for the act. The friend with the victim’s mother peeped through the door, saw them in the act and recorded via his mobile phone.

The appellant later saw such friend and she noticed that she was recording them. Hurriedly, the appellant attacked her and started fighting. They raised alarm and people responded, the appellant was arrested and the victim was taken to the police and later to the hospital.

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