A mother's quest to raise Ksh.150 million to save son held in a Saudi jail for murder

A mother's quest to raise Ksh.150 million to save son held in a Saudi jail for murder

In a heart-wrenching narration Dorothy Kweyu, a Kenyan mother, has shared her relentless pursuit of justice and freedom for her son, Stephen Bertrand Munyakho, currently incarcerated in Shimeisi Prison in the Governorate of Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stephen has so far spent 13 years in different Saudi prisons.

The story, as shared by the mother, began on a fateful Tuesday, April 12, 2011, when Dorothy received a devastating phone call informing her of a tragic incident involving her son, who was working in Saudi Arabia.

Initial reports suggested that Stephen had been involved in a fatal altercation, sending shockwaves of grief through Dorothy and her family.

However, the nightmare took a sinister turn when 37-year-old Stephen was sentenced to death by the sword following a trial for murder.

“My son was sentenced to death by the sword, but this would not be carried out immediately because a child from the Yemeni family was involved.

He had to be 18 to have a say on the execution of his father’s killer, I was later told.”

“There was also the “diya” or “blood money” option – financial compensation under Islamic law – which is paid to the victim or heirs of a victim in the cases of murder, bodily harm or property destruction by mistake,” Dorothy recounts as published on the Nation.

The gravity of the situation was worsened by the fact that the victim's family sought justice under Shariah law, leaving Dorothy feeling helpless and cornered.

Despite the grim outlook, Dorothy refused to give up hope. She tirelessly sought support from her community and government officials, including intervention from Kenya's Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.

Her efforts bore some fruit when the victim's family reluctantly agreed to negotiate a "diya" or blood money settlement. 

However, the road to securing Stephen's release remains fraught with challenges. The exorbitant amount demanded by the victim's family, initially set at 10 million Saudi Arabia Riyals (SAR) has proven to be an insurmountable hurdle for Dorothy and her family.

With the deadline of of May 15 to raise the compensation money looming, Dorothy finds herself facing the daunting task of raising Ksh.150 millions to secure her son’s freedom.

Despite the overwhelming odds, Dorothy remains hopeful, buoyed by the support of her community and the tireless efforts of government officials.

She is deeply grateful for the outpouring of solidarity from both local and diaspora communities who have raised Ksh.2 million with family and friends coming up with Ksh.300,000.

“My family and I are faced with the gargantuan task of raising Ksh.150 million. With one million Kenyans paying just Ksh.150 each, Stevo could rejoin his family in a day. Ksh.150 million is not money we, a family of humble means, can produce in my lifetime,” says Dorothy.

As the deadline approaches, Dorothy's plea for assistance to secure her son’s freedom echoes across Kenya and beyond.


Saudi Arabia Dorothy Kweyu

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