A Kenyan court on Friday sentenced two rugby players to 15 years in prison for the gang rape of a female singer at a birthday party last year.
The international rugby sevens players Frank Wanyama, 24, and Alex Olaba, 23, were earlier this month found guilty of the rape in a case which highlighted what some activists refer to as a tradition of “rape culture” in rugby.
Milimani High Court Martha Mutuku handed down the sentences of 15 years imprisonment saying “a deterrent sentence is necessary.”
The trial was held in-camera, so details of the evidence provided were not made public.
Mutuku declined a request from the defence lawyers that their clients be allowed to avoid jail time due to their youth and the fact that they had shown remorse.
Wanyama and Olaba, who were both university students when the rape took place, play for the Nairobi Harlequins club and have played for the national sevens team, Shujaa, in global tournaments.
Through their lawyer Jimmy Simiyu, the two said they regretted the incident and pleaded with the court for a non-custodial sentence.
The lawyer noted that Olaba and Wanyama had not planned to meet the musician her at her birthday party that night.
They were all drunk, he said, adding the woman opted to spend the night at Seefar Apartments in Highrise, Nairobi, after getting drunk.
The lawyer further said the players were from humble backgrounds and that the complainant had tried to extort money from them.
Simiyu also noted that the accused dropped out of school to attend court in the case that has gone on for more than one year.
He also told the court that one of the Strathmore University students had secured a scholarship at a Canadian University while the other had entered into a contract with a club in Helsinki, Finland.
“We request a non-custodial sentence as they have shown remorse. A custodial sentence will dash their dreams,” he said, adding his clients played a significant role when Kenya won the Rugby Sevens series in Singapore in 2016.
In reply, prosecutor Evelyn Onungo noted the victim’s state and that the two players should have conducted themselves with decorum, especially since they are national rugby players. She urged the court to go for the maximum penalty provided for in the law.
Section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act says any person found guilty of gang-rape is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than fifteen years.
The term, may be enhanced to imprisonment for life.