Kenyan court frees riders arrested over woman attack

Some of the 16 suspects who had been accused of assaulting a female motorist in Nairobi on March 4, 2022.

The 16 boda boda riders arrested over the sexual assault of a female diplomat in Nairobi have been released after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) said no case has been disclosed against them.

The riders, who were taken into custody earlier this month, have been asked to collect their personal belongings, including identity cards and motorcycles from the Gigiri Police Station on April 1, 2022.

The prime suspect in the gender violence case, who was arrested a fortnight ago near the Tanzania border after evading arrest through a sewer duct in Nairobi, will, however, be charged, the DPP said.

Zachariah Nyaore Obadiah will be charged for molesting the Zimbabwean diplomat on March 4 at Westlands.

The shocking daylight attack sparked a furore in Kenya with demonstrators staging a protest in the capital Nairobi against the actions of the riders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a crackdown on the motorcycle taxis and instructed law enforcement officers to ensure the perpetrators were punished.

“The investigating officer having found no evidence to charge the suspects, I hereby release them,” ruled senior principal magistrate Martha Nanzushi.


Last week, the court granted the DPP two days, until March 28, to decide whether to charge the suspects.

The court also warned that it would free Mr Nyaore on bond if the prosecutors do not charge him.

Eight suspects among the 16 told the court that they were not boda boda riders. They were arrested, they said, while waiting to board public service vehicles to their homes.

All the suspects were remanded at the Gigiri Police Station.

Boda boda riders in Kenya are typically young men and are notorious for breaching the highway code and assaulting drivers after collisions.

The two-wheelers are a popular mode of transport in East Africa’s economic powerhouse, which lacks a proper public commuter system.

There are at least 1.4 million motorcycles registered in Kenya, according to 2018 government data, with the majority used as taxis.

The riders have often been accused by campaign groups of snatch-and-grab robberies and harassing other road users, with abuses often ranging from derogatory comments to rape.

In 2020, a group of riders tried to lynch a former armed forces chief after one of them rear-ended his car, while a deputy governor saw his car torched after a similar accident.

Boda-boda riders were in 2019 classified as a “threat to national security” by an interior ministry research unit.


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