‘Bhang in underwear’ search costs police Ksh.4 million
A Nairobi High Court has awarded Ksh.4 million as compensation to a female student who was stripped and her semi-nude photos circulated by police in August 2015.
High Court Judge John Mativo condemned the act by the police, noting that dignity is justiceable and enforceable hence should be respected by all.
The court further found that the student’s rights were violated as she was portrayed in the eyes of the public as an ill-mannered individual with her private body parts exposed.
The girl was among 45 other students who were arrested in a Nairobi-bound bus after police received a tip-off from the public that the students, who were travelling from Kirinyaga for the August holidays, were allegedly intoxicated and engaging in sexual activities. The overloaded bus was impounded at the Sagana Traffic Police base.
The girl was found with four rolls of bhang tucked in her underwear, but police set themselves up for trouble when semi-nude photos of the girl being strip-searched at the police station were shared on social media.
A public uproar followed, prompting The Cradle Children Foundation, an NGO that safeguards childrens’ rights, to move to court.
The NGO demanded Ksh.7 million as compensation for the violation of the girl’s right to privacy, human dignity, security, access to justice and the right of an accused person.
The High Court has, however, declined to revoke the conviction for being in possession of bhang.
After she was found in possession of Marijuana, the girl, who was at the time aged 18, was arraigned in a Baricho Magistrates Court in Kirinyaga. She pleaded guilty but told the court she was holding the drugs for a friend.
She was detained at the Embu GK prison for five days after which she was convicted to serve 18 months probation.
The driver and conductor of the bus were charged with traffic-related offences including overloading. They pleaded guilty to all the counts and were released on a fine of Ksh.45,000 and Ksh.40,000 respectively.
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