Kenyan man arrested for breaking customary law of South Sudan
A customary court in Bentiu town sentenced a 27 year old Kenyan citizen to prison on Monday for impregnating an 18 year old secondary student. Peter Mathor Gai, a local chief in Unity state, told Sudan Tribune that traditional customary laws apply to both South Sudanese and expatriates.
Gai said Kenyan national George Kanyi Joki was working in Bentiu when he fell in love with the girl. After it became known she was pregnant a customary court charged him like an “indigenous man,” ordering him to pay three cows to the family of the unmarried girl.
The convicted man has been sent to prison “for his safety,” Gai said, because some members of of the girl’s family were said to be very angry that she had become pregnant outside marriage.
It is reported that the girl was beaten by her family when her pregnancy was discovered.
On Tuesday, Sudan Tribune visited Unity state prison to interview Joki, who said he accepted that he had committed a crime under the customary law of the Nuer ethnic group.
Joki has not been able to contact the Kenyan embassy in Juba and expects that he will remain in detention as he has not been able to get the money together in order to pay compensation to the family. He accused local chiefs of discrimination in this regard.
He said that if was allowed into Bentiu town he would be able to find other Kenyans to help him resolve his case.
“I will obey the customary law by paying the three cows as a charges to be given to the family, and shall work hard to marr[y] the lady, I do not care how matter it will take me to struggle to buy an additional 27 cows to the parent, and strongly appreciate the protection done by a girl to me and must promise to marr[y] her,” said Joki.
He said he appreciated the fact that his girlfriend had covered that he was the father for sometime but warned expatriates living in South Sudan that they must behave according to the norms of South Sudanese society.
John Panyuan, an official at the prison confirmed on Tuesday that by getting a girl pregnant before marriage Joki had broken customary law 269. He will not be released, the prison officer said, until the payment and demands of the family of the pregnant girl are met.