State suggests rugby players convicted of rape to be jailed to teach youth

Two National Rugby Team players Lawrence Frank Wanyama (left) Alex Mahaga Olaba at Milimani law courts during their lawyer's mitigation hearing (George Njunge / Standard)

Fighting to ward off long prison sentences, the two rugby players convicted of raping a musician sought to turn the tables on the victim citing an alleged extortion bid.

In their spirited bid to convince the court to grant them non-custodial sentences, Frank Wanyama and Alex Olaba claimed they believed their threesome act was consensual.

They also claimed that being older, their victim ought to have guided them against the act.

Wanyama and Olaba were convicted on Thursday by Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku for the incident that took place on the night of February 10, 2018.

Through their lawyer Jimmy Simiyu, the rugby players said the woman’s money demand to Wanyama was couched with a caveat that she would spill the beans if they did not pay up.

Frank Wanyama (L) of Kenya runs with the ball against Argentina during day one of Singapore Rugby Sevens tournament on April 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

According to the lawyer, Wanyama believed he was being extorted. State prosecutor Evelyne Olunga, however, objected to the line saying the defence lawyer was re-opening the case.

But, according to Simiyu, Wanyama, 24, held his ground. “The two accused persons were riding on implied belief that it was consented. When the first accused received a text from the complainant to send money, he reported it to the police. He believed that he was being extorted. If he knew he was guilty, he would have sent the money. The text read ‘if you don’t pay I will expose you’,” Simiyu told the court.

Minimum sentence

The lawyer also claimed that it was the 25-year-old woman who volunteered to go to Seefa Towers, situated at Nyayo Highrise, Nairobi, where the incident happened.

From the lawyer’s narration of the events of the night, the two players were at a friend’s party where alcohol flowed freely. Despite being strangers, they allegedly exchanged pleasantries with her and eventually ended up in the apartment.

Kenya Harlequins' Alex Olaba during Christies Sevens rugby tournament at RFUEA grounds on Sunday, Sept 16, 2018. (Jonah Onyango, Standard)

“At no time was it demonstrated that when they went to Seefa apartment that she was invited, she volunteered. They did not invite her. At no point were actual violence marks found on the complainant,” argued Simiyu.

The defence lawyer said the fact that the accused persons play rugby may have led to an erroneous belief that they were violent people. To the contrary, he told the court, rugby only requires muscular strength and the softest of the hearts.

“They had not planned to meet the lady. There was no intention on their part. There was no forethought and planning about this,” he said.

Simiyu claimed that since the musician was older than the two, she ought to have guided them not to commit the offence that landed them in trouble.

The State, on the other hand, asked the court to slap the two with the mandatory minimum sentence for rape - 15 years.

Alex Olaba (Photo: Standard)

According to Ms Olunga, the 15 years will be enough to warn other youths that it is not cool to take advantage of the other gender. She argued that since Wanyama and Olaba, 22, had represented Kenya in rugby, they ought to have acted diligently.

“The complainant was intoxicated. She could not appreciate the nature of the act that was being done,” argued Olunga.

The State lawyer, however, told the magistrate to factor in that the two were first-time offenders.

It also emerged that the saga has sank the lives of the two players. Wanyama, according to his lawyer, was a University of Nairobi student while his friend Olaba was a student at Strathmore. Wanyama had a running contract in Finland while Olaba was playing for Kenya Harlequins and was to join Trinity University in Canada on a scholarship.

The two will be sentenced to August 16 at 2.30pm.