46 members of the Kavonokia sect in Tharaka Nithi County have been sentenced to between six months and one year in prison for refusing to be counted in the just concluded national population and census exercise.
The ruling was delivered in a Marimanti Court on Wednesday after the 46, who were among 50 members arraigned, maintained that their religious doctrines do not allow them to participate in “earthly” activities.
However, the court freed four members after they pleaded guilty to declining to give information to census information for enlisting, lack of national identity cards and declining to have their fingerprints taken by the police. The four accepted to be enlisted.
Senior Resident Magistrate Stephen Nyaga jailed two of the 46 members for one year with an alternative of ksh200, 000 fine.
“Failure to pay Ksh200,000 fine, you will serve one year in prison, six months for declining to be counted and the other six for lack of national identity cards,” said Nyaga.
On the other hand, 25 women and 17 men were jailed for six months with an alternative fine of Ksh100, 000.
Two other members were sentenced to eight months in prison for declining to be enumerated and for refusing to have their fingerprints taken by the police.
This is not the first time the group is finding itself at loggerheads with law enforcers for rejecting government initiatives that are not ‘allowed’ according to their faith.
In May this year, a couple from the sect was charged in Embu for refusing to take their 13-month-old son to the hospital because their religion rejects modern medicine.
After he finally was treated and discharged, they refused to take him back, saying he was unholy.
In August last year, three others were arrested for rejecting polio vaccine on their children.
A similar incident happened in 2014, where police officers and health officials were forced to storm homes of some of the sect members to forcefully administer the polio vaccine on their children.