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|Case Number:||Criminal Appeal 126 of 2012|
|Parties:||Yohanah Ngakhala v Republic|
|Date Delivered:||25 Nov 2014|
|Court:||High Court at Eldoret|
|Citation:||Yohanah Ngakhala v Republic  eKLR|
|Advocates:||Ms Kagari for the State|
|Case History:||(Being an appeal from the original conviction and sentence in Criminal Case No. 3022 of 2012 Republic vs Yohanah Ngakhala in the Principal Magistrate’s Court at Eldoret by F. N. Kyambia, Principal Magistrate dated 17th July 2012)|
|Advocates:||Ms Kagari for the State|
|History Docket No:||Criminal Case No. 3022 of 2012|
|History Magistrate:||F. N. Kyambia, Principal Magistrate|
|History Advocates:||One party or some parties represented|
|History County:||Uasin Gishu|
|Case Outcome:||Appeal dismissed.|
|Disclaimer:||The information contained in the above segment is not part of the judicial opinion delivered by the Court. The metadata has been prepared by Kenya Law as a guide in understanding the subject of the judicial opinion. Kenya Law makes no warranties as to the comprehensiveness or accuracy of the information|
REPUBLIC OF KENYA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KENYA AT ELDORET
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 126 OF 2012
(Being an appeal from the original conviction and sentence in Criminal Case No. 3022 of 2012 Republic vs Yohanah Ngakhala in the Principal Magistrate’s Court at Eldoret by F. N. Kyambia, Principal Magistrate dated 17th July 2012)
1. The appellant was convicted on his own plea of guilty on one count of unlawfully grazing livestock in the forest contrary to section 52 (1) of the Forest Act, Number 7 of 2005. He was sentenced to a fine of Kshs 50,000 or six months imprisonment in default. The appellant has appealed against the conviction and sentence.
2. The particulars of the charge were as follows-
“On the 16th day of July 2012 at Nzoia Forest in Lugari District within Western Province was found illegally de-pasturing two (2) herd of cattle in young plantation destroying young trees valued at Kshs. 400 the property of Kenya Government without permit from the Kenya Forest Service.”
3. The appellant is aggrieved by the conviction and sentence. The petition of appeal was filed on 20th July 2012. It urges three grounds: That the charge sheet was defective; that the proceedings were conducted in a language that the appellant did not understand; and, that the sentence was harsh and excessive.
4. The appeal is contested by the State. The case for the State is that the plea of guilty was unequivocal. In the circumstances, the conviction and sentence cannot be impeached.
5. This is a first appeal to the High Court. I have re-evaluated all the evidence on record and drawn my own conclusions. Njoroge v Republic  KLR 19, Okeno v Republic  EA 32, Kariuki Karanja v Republic  KLR 190.
6. I have carefully studied the records of the trial court. I am satisfied that the proceedings were conducted in Kiswahili. Before the plea was taken, the court enquired from the appellant the language he understood. At page 4 of the record, he replied that he “understood Kiswahili”. The substance and ingredients of the charge were then read to him. The appellant pleaded guilty. The appellant never raised any issue relating to the language or proceedings.
7. The facts read in court were straightforward: on the material day, forest guards were on duty in Nzoia Forest in Lugari when they came across the appellant grazing two head of cattle in the forest where young trees had been planted. They arrested him and took him to Turbo Police Station. The appellant was then charged with the offence.
8. When the facts were read to the appellant, he confirmed them to be correct. A plea of guilty was entered. The appellant even mitigated and told the court: “I pray for leniency”. The trial court considered the mitigation offered by the appellant before handing down the sentence.
9. Upon reappraisal of those facts, I find that the appellant’s plea of guilty was unequivocal. The submission that he did not follow the proceedings is an afterthought. From the facts read out in court, all the ingredients of the offence were present. Under section 52 (1) (e) of the Forests Act, it is an offence to “de-pasture or allow any livestock” in a state, local authority or provisional forest without a licence, permit or management agreement issued under the Act. Livestock is defined in section 3 to include domesticated animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, asses, horses, camels and pigs. The appellant was grazing cattle in the forest without a licence, permit or management agreement. The charge was not thus defective. The appeal against conviction is thus devoid of merit. I find that the appellant was properly convicted for the offence under section 52 (1) (e) of the Forests Act.
10. That leaves the matter of the sentence. Section 52 (2) of the Act provides for a sentence of a fine of not less than Kshs 50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not less than six months. The hands of the learned trial Magistrate were thus tied by the law. He gave the most lenient sentence in the circumstances.
11. I commiserate with the appellant but I regret that my hands are equally tied in the matter. I also find that the sentence handed down was the minimum sentence and thus well within the law.
12. In the result, I find that the appeal is devoid of merit. I uphold the conviction and sentence handed down by the learned trial Magistrate. The entire appeal is dismissed.
It is so ordered.
DATED, SIGNED and DELIVERED at ELDORET this 25th day of November 2014
GEORGE KANYI KIMONDO
Judgment read in open court in the presence of
The appellant (in person).
Ms. Kagari for the State.
Mr. J. Kemboi, Court clerk.