Dull Christmas as one of the members disappears with group savings in Mombasa

At the end of the year, most people inchamas(merry-go-round groups) are eager to ease shopping pressure using what they have been saving for the past 11 months.However, a group of women in Mombasa County will persevere a dull Christmas after their treasurer disappeared with more than Sh163,000 which they have been saving since January.The savings were due to be shared among members before Christmas.

But due to a tragic turn of events, members of the Miritini Apparels women group are now a worried lot and are not sure whether they will enjoy the money that they have been saving since January this year.

What was meant to ease the Christmas pressure has now become a subject of criminal proceedings before the Mombasa law court.

Ms Florence Okinyo was on Wednesday arraigned before the court and charged with theft of the money.

The charge sheet indicates that the woman, while acting as the treasurer of the women’s group, stole Sh163,060.
The state alleges that the woman committed the offence between January and November this year at Simba Apparel in Jomvu sub-county.

Court records indicate that Ms Okinyo is employed together with the complainants at Simba Apparel Miritini on a casual basis.

The court heard that the group of women agreed to set aside some money daily for a year after which each member gets their share of savings to cater for their family’s needs during the festive season.

Ms Okinyo was then made the treasurer and was entrusted with members’ contributions.

As the treasurer, she was tasked with opening a fixed account or M-Pesa account for the safekeeping of the members’ savings.

Throughout the year, the suspect allegedly presented fake M-Shwari and fixed account numbers where the money was saved.

Nor picked calls
But on December 2 when the money was supposed to be shared, the court heard that Ms Okinyo disappeared without a trace.

“She neither reported to work nor picked calls from her colleagues,” state counsel Yassir Yusuf told the court.

The court also heard that towards the end of November, the suspect transferred the money from the group bank account to her personal M-Shwari account.

During this time, she would occasionally come to work or complain of sickness whenever she fails to turn up.

Members then decided to mount a search for her and after finding her, they confronted her and demanded that she produces the money.

“The accused told the members that she had no money. She said all of the money had been stolen. She had wrapped it in a polythene paper and kept it in a small bag,” the prosecutor said.

The irked group members then escorted the suspect to the Jomvu police station where after interrogation, she failed to account for the money.

Pleaded guilty
Ms Okinyo who appeared before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku pleaded guilty to the offence.

The suspect, however, pleaded with the court not to jail her promising to repay the money in Sh10,000 monthly instalments.

“The facts are true. I plead with this court to allow me to return to work so that I can repay the money. I am willing to repay it if I’m given a non-custodial sentence,” she pleaded.

The magistrate allowed the suspect to negotiate with her colleagues within six days on how she will repay the money before she is sentenced.

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