A Bungoma court has set free Saleh Wanjala, who clung onto a helicopter carrying the body of Jacob Juma in May 2016.
The court ruled Wednesday that Wanjala, who was christened Bungoma’s James Bond on social media, did not endanger his life and that of the captain’s as argued by the prosecution.
Bungoma Principal Magistrate Charles Mutai said the prosecution failed to prove how Wanjala’s actions caused disturbance to the captain, and, as a result, made the copter stand a chance of crashing.
Wanjala was offered pro bono representation by lawyer Andrew Kituyi.
In his submission to court in 2017, the pilot, James Sigili, told the court that Wanjala caused no danger when he hung onto the helicopter.
Sigili, then-46, acting as a State witness, told Principal Magistrate William Chepseba that ‘James Bond’ caused no danger to him or his passengers.
While being cross examined by Wanjala’s lawyer Andrew Kituyi, Sigili blamed the police for failing to secure Posta grounds where the helicopter was to land, thus allowing youths to disrupt the removal of the body for public viewing.
“Your honour ‘Bond’ caused no danger to either me or my passengers because I had not even seen him hanging on the helicopter’s trunk. I was only informed by my co-pilot and the noise from the public. I just took him directly to Bungoma airstrip where I left him to jump to safety,” said Sigili.
He said he had not encountered such an incident in the more than 20 years he had served as a pilot, but a majority of residents always milled around the helicopter to have a close look at it.
“Bond’s incident was a proof of bravery, its unique talent, he caused no danger because he was just curious and wanted to have a look at the body of Jacob Juma, I see nothing wrong,” he said.
Wanjala hogged media headlines in May 2016, when he precariously hung onto the helicopter for almost five kilometers — from Bungoma’s Posta grounds to the airstrip.
He was injured in the process when the aircraft dropped him at Posta grounds and was hospitalised at Bungoma County Referral Hospital for a week.
Wanjala was charged with endangering his life and that of the pilot.