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Was white Kenyan aristocrat’s conviction fair?

May 8, 2009

It’s been almost three years since the son of the 5th Lord Delamere, Thomas Cholmondeley, first hopped down from a police  truck and entered into Kenya’s High Court to face murder charges  over the death of a local poacher on his estate.


Cholmondeley sat as impassively this week as he did that  first day in court as the judge convicted him of a lesser charge  of manslaughter.

Although the death  penalty is off the table, he still could face life in prison.

Cholmondeley admitted shooting dogs belonging to five armed poachers whom he confronted on his 55,000 acre ranch but denied killing local stonemason Robert Njoya.

The media frenzy surrounding the case has had as much to do with the gin-soaked antics of his British colonial ancestors as  with simmering resentment against settlers who snatched large  tracts of land during British rule .

The aristocrat’s family is one of Kenya’s largest landowners and is famed for its association with the wealthy white settlers  of colonial east Africa’s “Happy Valley” set whose passions for  big game hunting, adultery and lavish parties inspired the book and film “White Mischief.” Many Kenyans say there are two laws  in the east African nation – one for whites and one for blacks.

Another murder case against Cholmondeley — this one  involving a game warden in 2005 — was dropped for lack of  evidence.

Lawyers will be back in court on Tuesday to begin the  sentencing process. Defence attorneys have already said they  would appeal. Was the verdict fair? What sentence do you think he’ll get?


I for one cannot see how the judgement was not fair.The man was in no personal danger and did not try and apprehend the”poacher” nor were they armed.But he chose to take and not for the first time a human life.Those willing to take life should also be prepared to lose thier own (not physically) and prison is such a loss.The privelege he has in life does not extend to being above the law.I only wish that the phrase “white” was irrelaevant in this case sadly we have yet to progress to theat stage.Finally on the land issue how many rich Kenyan absentee landowners treat thier fellow Kenyans with the same disdain hopefully the rules will change to encompass all ,and avoid a MUGABE type sickness invading KENYA.


Get all racist and greedy white people out of Africa! Haven’t they killed enough of us already?!

Posted by Gbudwe | Report as abusive

The problem is that Africa is a mess. There is no law and order and proper and functioning government. The people who own property are constantly under attack. They need to, and have a right to, protect themselves. The question should be, what the heck was the poacher doing on private property anyway? Here in the U.S. trespassers can be shot after one verbal warning. They need to have the same law in Kenya to protect private property.. the basis of all created wealth.

As for Gbudwe’s racist remark. There are many blacks here in the U.S. And they commit about 8 times more crimes per-capita than any other American. Should we say “Get all the criminal black people out of America, haven’t they murdered enough Americans already?” That is silly and stupid and no one would suggest that that happen. But in the dark and uneducated continent.. even racism is excuseable.

Posted by Ayan | Report as abusive

Regarding Ayan above – “dark and uneducated continent”, presumably you mean your own benighted homeland?

I am American who has lived and worked in Africa for many years. And though it may come as a surprise to most westerners, Africans in general are far more open-minded and intellectually curious than the average Yank.

As for your “8 times” nonsense; well, you should really go back to school.

Posted by Chris Thompson | Report as abusive

It is unfortunate that you ask for an opinion on whether the judgement was fair or not, but do not even show a summary of the merits of the case,simply highlighting the fact that Thomas Cholmondeley was white. This is unfortunate as it implictly alludes that the case was based more on the fact that he was white than the crime he actually committed.

This is a man who tried to turn the case and blame his friend who was with him. He has shot and killed a game warden before on ‘suspicion’ of being a poacher and walked away. He has been reported to whip people ( women included) who go collect firewood on his land, but nothing happens.

I hope and believe that he was judged as a Kenyan, not a white man. the only reason the media is interested in this case is we can’t believe that a white man found guilty in africa was judged fairly. the justice system must be wrong. That, is pathetic

Posted by Kenyan | Report as abusive

The judgement was absolutely fair. In fact, a little lenient. Only in America can a rich white man shoot unarmed black men repeatedly on disputed property, and call them poachers, terrorists, trespassers…, then walk free. Ayan clearly has never set foot in Africa, nor met anyone who has.

Posted by Alice | Report as abusive

Regarding Gbudwe’s comment. Not all white people are rascist and greedy. Especially African white people. I take great offence to your comment as I love this continent and I will never leave it…not even by government order! Note even if you, Gbudwe, come up to my house with a gun telling me to leave. This is my home as much as it is yours.
Secondly, white people are not the only ones who are rascist and greedy. In almost every country within Africa corruption is a way of life…and rascism follows not long after that. I feel that you are the rascist Gbudwe; and you should leave Africa!
Thirdly, the most killing that has happened in this continent has, funnily enough, not been as a result of white people. Extremist groups, rebels etc etc, all fighting over some arbitrary resource which will run out one day. Then what do we have left on this continent…all your hate Gbudwe. YOURS!

With regards to Ayan’s comment…you are also a rascist. Could you tell me where you got that statistic? I am a researcher and you, my friend, are incorrect. Rascism is never excuseable!…maybe, Ayan, you should start your own country within the U.S. for all the red-neck gun-toting hip-gangster-wannabees like yourself. You can all shoot eachother to heck for all i care. THEN… elect Goerge Bush president and go fight another war for oil.

Is Chris Thompson the only person with some rational thought in here?

Posted by Neill | Report as abusive

Was the conviction fair… ? Looks like another survey to get into the mindset of the African. Yes it was fair… LaLa land is over for thomas, maybe he’ll be able to see his 55,000 acres from prison and be conforted. No compassion for the non-compassionate.

Posted by Anslem Eromobor | Report as abusive

It appears to me that this trial was blatantly turned into a race issue by certain Kenyan politians and the Judge was under huge political pressure to ensure a conviction no matter what the evidence produced. For the Judge to completly deregard the defence was a scandal in itself. In my opion this man did not get a fair trial and reflects the deep seated corruption in Kenya. Possibly the politians are trying to distract from the fact that they themselves are partaking in a land grab of their own.
I, myself grew up in a country that is predominatly black and was once ruled by the white man, as Kenya was, and I find the black man always seems to dwell on the past. To which the black politicians, who rule, are only too happy to remind him mainly to hind their own greed and misgovernment.
I think Kenyans should be ashamed of their Judicial system and the trial this man received. SHAME ON KENYA.

Posted by Peter Smith | Report as abusive

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