Innocent youths latest victims of political violence
The allure of quick money has ended in broken dreams, funeral arrangements, a widow and a three-month-old child without a father.
The young lives of Christopher Kariuki, the 21-year-old father of a three-month-old baby and Peter Mbothu, a 15-year-old boy who completed Class Eight last year were snuffed out in the political chaos that erupted at Kenol in Murang’a County, following a visit by Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday.
Kariuki’s widow, Lydia Wangui, 19, described her husband as hardworking, loving, humble and visionary.
“No one can bring back my husband. He really struggled to save his life and it’s very painful that he is no more. What we want is justice for him through arrests and convictions of all the involved,” she mourned.
A distraught Wangui said her husband, who worked as an electrician and plumber before the onset of Covid-19 and was recently contracted in the Kazi Mtaani programme, was not interested in political activities and only agreed to join his friends for the event after he was assured that they were to spruce up a hotel in the area ahead of the DP’s visit. They had been promised Sh2,000 each.
She revealed that Kariuki, an orphan who was raised by his uncle, was stabbed twice from behind and succumbed to his injuries on arrival in hospital.
Wangui called on the government to expedite arrest of all persons involved in the murder of her husband, saying that no amount of compensation would bring back his life.
A few kilometres from Kariuki’s village, a cloud of sadness engulfed Mbothu’s home at Kiang’ombe village, within Thika Town constituency.
Mbothu, who completed Class Eight last year, was the only son in the family of Kihungi Mbothu.
The boy had accompanied his cousin to the church event where Ruto was expected to visit.
Keep youth off
Mbothu’s father regrets the events of Sunday morning telling politicians to keep the youth out of their business and instead engage in mature politicking that does not result in damage of property and loss of lives.
“Those politicians should use their children and relatives to advance their political games.
They should stop dragging our poor children to their theatrics. We have been left with pain and the politicians are nowhere to be seen.
My son was not a thief and he died in the name of a politician, it’s sad!” said Mbothu.
Lucy Njoki, sister of the teenager, said she was called at around 9am when she was informed that her brother had been involved in an accident along Kenol road, but before arriving there, she was asked to rush to Thika Level Five where she found he had succumbed to his injuries.
“We are urging President Uhuru to intervene and help us find justice. We are crying; my only brother is gone. We cannot fathom how this event turned violent,” she cried.
This comes even as fresh details emerged on the skirmishes witnessed after supporters of two political groupings (Tangatanga and Kieleweke) confronted each other.
Buses ferried youths
The grieving families revealed at least seven Kenya Mpya buses ferried more than 350 youths from Kiandutu slums in Thika to the function in Murang’a.
The buses are reported to have been instructed to collect the youths from the populous slum and return them in the evening after the event.
The company’s management, however, dissociated the vehicles from the fight, saying: “Our management, directorship, staff, buses and resources were not used in any way to facilitate the occurrences at Kenol.
We completely distance ourselves from any political affiliations and activities as they are not part of our core business,” a statement from NEO Kenya management read.
Reports from youths who also attended the event indicated that they were sponsored by a famous Thika-based bishop-cum-politician.
The violence elicited fury among residents who told politicians to stop advancing their selfish interests by sacrificing poor youths.
Joseph Kamande, Kariuki’s uncle, said he had struggled to educate the young man and it was unfair to lose him just when he had started his own family.
“I have raised Kariuki alongside other orphans in this sprawling village with a lot of challenges.
I took him to school and it’s very disturbing that all my efforts have gone to waste. The greedy politicians will pay for his death,” said Kamande.
John Karoki, who supervised Kariuki while working in the Kazi Mtaani initiative, absolved him from involvement in the chaos saying he was a calm person who feared confrontations.
“We will no longer be used to advance the interests of people who don’t care for us.
Going forward, politicians should mature up and engage the citizenry using their manifestos,” said Karoki.