Kenya: ‘Kingpin' of KDF hiring scam set free

A man arrested for being in possession of fake Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) recruitment letters has been acquitted.

Augustine Wambugu Mwangi alias Major Augustine, who had been charged with fraud, impersonation, forgery and presentation of false documents, was set free by Eldoret Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa for lack of evidence and interest from the aggrieved parties.

The alleged mastermind of a hiring cartel was arrested in Eldoret two months ago and accused of being behind false military recruitment letters given to youths.

Wednesday, Mr Obulutsa released Wambugu and censured KDF for frustrating such cases to “protect military officers”.

Military police

“The military never pressed the charges, never showed interest to prosecute and have been lax in testifying maybe because they fear such cases may affect their seniors. The accused is therefore acquitted under section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Code because he has no other pending case and all that was seized from him be returned,” the magistrate said.

Obulutsa raised concern over fraud cases involving military police, saying they are never sustained due to lack of compelling evidence and laxity by KDF officers to ensure smooth prosecution.

“Such fraud cases involving the KDF never materialise. Since 2015 to date only two cases have been prosecuted successfully compared...Last year, hundreds were arrested at the Recruits Training School when they reported for commencement of training with fake letters but were released on police bonds and disappeared to date,” said Obulutsa.

He said about 60 recruits who had been duped and given fake recruitment letters had been arrested. “They took pleas but never appeared in court again.”

Wambugu was allegedly found with three fake KDF recruitment letters, Sh726,000, three phones and an iPad at the time of his arrest.

He was in company of Antony Gitonga Mwangi whom he had allegedly promised to help join KDF.

He was first arraigned in court on June 23 and charged with defrauding Gitonga Sh400,000 by pretending he was an army Major and would secure him a job, impersonating a public officer and making KDF recruitment letters illegally.

He denied the charges and was released on a Sh1 million bond.

On Tuesday, Polycarp Odoyo, an investigating officer, said he wanted the matter withdrawn and the suspect acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence.

“It has been difficult for us to build a case because the complainant and the military officers who arrested him never gave us their full identity, they left the matter to us yet we had scanty information to sustain a case,” said Odoyo.

[email protected]