Thirty-three-year-old Benedict Karisa, the man who was — on February 14 — sentenced to two years in jail for being in possession of a python without a valid permit, has been freed after President Uhuru Kenyatta paid the Ksh1 million fine that had been slapped on him by Mombasa Resident Magistrate Vincent Adet.
Coast Regional Coordinator, John Elungata, told K24 Digital that Karisa was freed from Shimo la Tewa Maxium Prison on Wednesday, February 19, five days after he was jailed.
Elungata said the president had also given Karisa money to start a business of his choice.
The convict, who hails from Mtwapa in Kilifi County, was also given bus-fare.
Police in Likoni, Mombasa, on February 11 arrested Karisa after he was found in possession of a 2.3-meter snake.
It was discovered that Karissa’s suitcase had the 10-kg python when his belonging was being screened at the Likoni Ferry channel; the Mombasa side.
“The suspect was passing the island screening area through the X-Ray (detector) when he was intercepted. He was arrested, and will be charged with the offence of dealing in a live wildlife species without a permit or other lawful exemption contrary to Section 95(c) of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013,” said a police report filed at Likoni Ferry Police Station on February 11.
When he was arraigned on February 12, Karisa pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced to two years in jail, with an alternative of a Ksh1 million fine.
In his mitigation, the convict told the court that he earned his daily bread as a snake charmer. Karisa said he had performed with the snake before crowds for at least seven years.
He further told the court that he captured the snake from a thicket near his Kaloleni rural home.
“Your honour, I have been living with this snake since it was young (sic). I adopted it after it slithered into my house. I kept it in my house as a pet, and after l relocated to Likoni, l decided to move with it to my new home,” Karisa said.
Karisa now says he is relieved after securing his freedom.