Justice Said Chitembwe began the day as the most pronounced underdog in the race to succeed retired Chief Justice David Maraga. This was due to two infamous incidents which he found himself mired in .
The first one is concerning a corruption case dating back to 2011 when he was facing fraud charges from his time at the NSSF board. Although he was acquitted, it continues to hang over him like a dark cloud. The second one is a ruling he made concerning a litigant named Martin Charo who he freed from defilement charges after handling his appeal case.
However, in a quick moment, Justice Said Chitembwe seemed to make all this forgotten when responding to a question by Evelyn Olwande who is the vice president of the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA), and represents Judges on the JSC.
Olwande had asked him about his views concerning ruling on substance versus ruling on consequences.
Chitembwe maintained that although ruling while basing on substance was a good thing, it was more important to consider consequences as well.
Deciding to concentrate his examples on cases of teenage pregnancies, he gave events that took place in two cases that he had presided over.
The first one was in Malindi where he was handling a murder case.
One of the witnesses was a young girl who had a child. Justice Chitembwe said he was taken aback, and for a second, put aside the case and asked the girl how old she was. The girl told her she was 17. Chitembwe asked her how she had already gotten a child at that age, to which the girl replied, it wasn’t long after her first child that she gave birth to the child she was with in court who was her second child. A shocked Chitembwe said this showed him the futility of locking up some of these men. Who then would take care of the 17 year old’s kids? He posed.
The second case involved a boda boda who was in a relationship with a school girl in North Eastern. The girl’s father went to the boda boda, who he considered a son in law, to ask him for money. The boda boda told him to wait until he finished playing his pool game.
Feeling disrespected, the father pressed defilement charges against him. Six months later he was back in court seeking to withdraw the charges after the boda boda couldn’t continue taking the teenage mother to school, and taking care of his child with the teenager because of the jail term he was serving.