Serial killer Masten Wanjala

Masten Wanjala, a Kenyan self-confessed serial killer who escaped from custody two days ago, was yesterday evening killed by a mob in western Kenya. Masten Wanjala was traced by villagers to a house in Bungoma town and beaten to death.

Authorities had launched a massive manhunt for the fugitive who admitted to killing more than 10 young boys during a five-year period. He also confessed to drugging them and, in some cases, drinking their blood. He apparently returned to his rural home, after his parents had disowned him – and was subsequently beaten to death by neighbors who found out he was there.

Wanjala posed as a football coach to lure his victims to secluded areas, after which he attacked them. In some cases, he took them as hostages for ransom. Upon his arrest in July, he took the police to burial sites of his victims where bodies have since been recovered. Three police officers who were on duty when he escaped on Wednesday, have been charged with aiding the escape of a suspect and negligence, as the serial killer had confessed to getting aid from one of the officers, who provided him a cell phone, a gadget that is prohibited to access, while one is in custody. Police say they noticed he had disappeared during the morning roll call.

There are also growing calls for the resignation of Kenya’s police chief over the escape, which shocked the nation. The law provides that every person is innocent until proven guilty. Article 50(2)(a) of the Constitution provides that “every person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved,”

It is important to note that only the courts have the authority to prove guilt or innocence, not the public or the police. Therefore, when any individual outside the court of law decides to declare guilt of a suspect, they are breaking the law and the Constitution. Thus, what is referred to as mob justice is actually a great injustice to the suspect, as it does not accord them their day in court. The rise in mob justice is usually an indication of lack of faith in the justice system. When crime becomes rampant, the people question the work of security authorities. They feel the security authorities are not doing enough to rein in on insecurity and so they choose to do so themselves.