By Sophie Njoka.
A Mombasa magistrate on Tuesday, July 23, surprised court attendees when he held an impromptu fundraiser to help a 19-year-old woman charged with theft raise compensation for two hair weaves she had stolen from a Mtwapa supermarket.
Shanzu Senior Resident Magistrate Patrick Odhiambo asked those present in the courtroom to voluntarily contribute at least Ksh100 which will go toward recompensing the supermarket.
The magistrate’s request came after the suspect, Karyn Chelagat, pleaded guilty to shoplifting charge, saying she envied her friends who sported good-looking weaves, but, due to her financial woes, she was unable to raise the Ksh1, 140 collective tag put on the synthetic hair.
Chelagat stole the weaves from the Mtwapa supermarket on Sunday, July 21.
“I wanted to look beautiful like other women. So, I went to the supermarket, looked around and saw the weaves that my friends often wear. Upon looking at the price tag, I was heartbroken that I couldn’t afford the two pieces. Left with no other choice, I stole the products,” Chelagat told the court amid tears.
The suspect, in her mitigation, further told the magistrate that poverty “made it hard for her to properly groom herself”.
“I was raised in poverty. When I came to town, I would see women sporting good hair and wearing quality make-up. I have tried to look as beautiful as my friends, but lack of money makes that impossible,” said Chelagat.
It was at that point that the magistrate asked lawyers present in court and other Kenyans to contribute at least Ksh100 each to help Chelagat raise Ksh1, 140 which she owed her accuser.
One of the lawyers, William Bosire, gave out Ksh2, 000 to rescue the woman from serving a 2-year jail term for the offence.
Alternatively, the teenager would have had to part with a fine of Ksh50, 000 to secure her freedom.
Senior Resident Magistrate Odhiambo set Chelagat free and, thereafter, asked the investigating officer to return the stolen weaves to the Mtwapa supermarket, and Bosire’s money be given to the accused “to buy a weave and food to eat”.