When Jackline Mwende sought advice on her bad marriage, she was given the same counsel many women in abusive relationships get: stay and fight for your marriage. The first pastor she went to for advice told her to stay and pray for her marriage.
Long before Ms Mwende’s hands were hacked off by her husband, Stephen Ngila, 34, for not conceiving, their seven-year marriage had been plagued with constant fights that stemmed from not having a child.
A hospital in Nairobi told the couple that Ms Mwende was fertile and healthy but her husband had reproductive “issues”. However, she believed in her marriage and had been advised by another pastor and some of her friends to stay and try to save it.
Pastor Patrick Kioko of Masii District SDA church, who was the couple’s best man on Monday told NationKenya that the marriage between Ms Mwende and Mr Ngila had been rosy at the beginning but things started changing towards the end of last year.
“It seemed there was hope for reconciliation but the man was not ready to mend the union. In fact, he even moved out and rented a room in Masii town.”
He said Mwende was afraid “to be seen as the one who broke her marriage”.
This was escalated to a church hearing because the issues seemed unresolved and the couple was urged to settle their differences and save their marriage.
“But we noticed the man was determined to leave. So it was agreed that they live in peace in their separate homes and ask the courts to dissolve the marriage. Because, as a church, we don’t end marriages.”
He said the church was planning to bring them together but then the attack happened.
“We were shocked how it turned out even after all the effort we put in. Anger is dangerous in a union and this is something we all should learn from.”
Ms Mwende met Mr Ngila, a tailor, shortly after finishing Standard Eight in Kathama Primary School, Machakos County, in 2010, and she says it was love at first sight. She described her husband as a “kind and God-fearing” man.
“He taught me how to make dresses and clothes. We fell in love during this time and we had a church wedding three months later,” she said. “But he gradually became violent and a drunk. He spent more time in Masii town and would come back late at night, drunk and violent. He also chewed miraa. When he attacked me on Sunday, he was drunk. But I stayed because I wanted to save the marriage and my home.”
Tears welled up in her mother’s eyes on hearing her daughter’s determination to save her marriage.
“I pleaded with her to pack her things and leave their home in Ilinge village because of the constant quarrels, but she said he would change. Then this happened,” Ms Jane Munyoki, the mother, lamented. “I gave him my daughter, who was complete and well, and now she does not have hands. I hope the government does not release him. I am afraid that if he is let go, I will die of depression.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Ngila has been charged with attempted murder of his wife. He appeared before Wamunyu Law Court Resident Magistrate K. Kibellion. He denied the charges and was sent to the Machakos GK remand until August 5. He was also denied bond until the same date when the court will rule on the issue.