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Saumu Mbuvi demands government finds unique ways to punish food stealers

By Winnie Mabel December 14th, 2022 2 min read

Since the Kenyan economy inflated due to the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, cases began being reported of people stealing food from supermarkets to feed their families.

One of the most famous cases of food stealing was when Alvin Linus Chivondo was caught shoplifting food items at Naivas Supermarket after his family allegedly went three days without eating anything.

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He revealed this in court prior to his sentencing whereby he was fined Sh 100,000 despite not having a job to pay the fine or feed his family.

His case moved Kenyans and former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko moved swiftly to pay the fine for Mr Chivondo and provided Mr Chivondo and his family with food stock to last a month. He also promised the 22-year-old young man a job.

Years later in 2022, Saumu Mbuvi, the eldest daughter of Mike Sonko, took to social media to demand that the government find other ways of punishing food stealers.

Saumu has been organizing food drives to feed street families and the less fortunate across the country, especially during this time of low employment and high inflation being experienced in Kenya.

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“Honestly I don’t get why they arrest people with petty offences like a man stealing food due to hunger, then they take them behind bars and want them to raise an exaggerated amount of bail.

If he couldn’t raise money for food, how can the person raise money for bail? For such people, the government should just send them to community service punishments like planting 1000 trees or volunteering in government hospitals for a certain period.

Let’s be human. If you agree with me on this, kindly share widely till it reaches those concerned,” said Saumu.

In past instances, occurrences have been reported of judges helping an accused person raise money to buy food in instances where they were caught shoplifting to feed their starving families- a unique service to humanity as opposed to punishing them according to the Penal Code.

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The Nation reported in May 2022 that Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Vincent Adet led funds to drive in his courtroom where he gave Sh 1,000 first as others raised funds for a couple that had been brought before him for stealing a bale of wheat flour costing Sh 1,980.

“On humanitarian grounds, especially for the woman, I have considered the circumstances of the offence and I sympathise with her situation. With three kids under her care, and no source of income, I am of the view that let us buy her a bale of wheat flour and some meat for today,” Magistrate Adet was quoted saying.

He then set the couple free and warned them not to commit any crime again.

According to the Penal Code Cap 63 (275), any person who steals anything capable of being stolen is guilty of the felony termed theft and is liable, unless owing to the circumstances of the theft or the nature of the thing stolen some other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for three years.

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