Mystery as couple goes missing at JKIA lounge
A family in Gatanga, Murang’a county is in anguish after their daughter and her Iranian husband mysteriously disappeared from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport moments before boarding a plane.
The couple: Stella Waithera and Ahmed Golabi went missing on Friday, September 24, 2021 as they waited to board a Turkish airline flight to Iran, via Istanbul, Turkey where they were scheduled to stop over for about eight hours.
According to Stella’s father Samuel Njunue Mugwe and her mother Esther Wambui Njunue, the couple, who neither boarded the plane nor returned home, have since never been found as their phones remain switched off.
“Despite our numerous visits to JKIA, both the police and management have not been of any help to us.
They have only been taking us in circles,” a distraught Mugwe told People Daily yesterday.
Whereas the Turkish airlines and Iranian embassy in Nairobi have confirmed that the couple did not leave the country, Mugwe says the police have only been taking them in circles without offering them any assistance.
But Mugwe says the only hope they have that the couple could still be alive is based on the information they received from Gatanga MP Ngugi Nduati that the two had been arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU).
“But then even if it is the ATPU that arrested them, why can’t the police tell us so?
Why are they keeping it a secret? Why can’t they take them to court and charge them instead of keeping them incommunicado?” Mugwe questions with tears flowing down his cheeks.
The family has now engaged the services of lawyer Stanley Kangahi. Kangahi told People Daily that he has moved to court seeking habeas corpus orders (compel the government to produce them).
Stella and Golabi, both based in Tehran, had been in the country since September 19 to visit Mugwe, who had been sick.
Narrating the events of the fateful day, Mugwe said the family had spent the whole day together in Gatanga, where they had lunch together, before taking a tour of the village.
Later at around 6.30pm, the couple drove back to Langata, Nairobi, where they had been staying with Mugwe’s third born daughter.
At around midnight, they left the Lang’ata house for the airport and arrived at around 1.30am. They were supposed to board their flight at 4am.
“After being dropped, Stella and Golabi checked in as those who had taken them there drove back to Lang’ata,” Mugwe said.
But the following morning, the family became suspicious when the couple failed to communicate about their journey as they had previously done. Their phones remained switched off the whole day.
The following day (Sunday), Mugwe and family after communicating with their contacts in Turkey and Iran who confirmed that the couple had not arrived as anticipated, decided to visit JKIA only to meet very unfriendly police officers and airport staff.
“They were not ready to listen to us and only told us to check with the airlines. So since it was a Sunday, we decided to visit the Turkish airline offices on Monday,” Mugwe says.
Arrested by police
The following day, a visit to both Turkish airlines offices and Iran embassy in Nairobi confirmed that the couple had not boarded the flight and neither had they arrived in either of the two countries.
When they went back to the airport, some Immigration and airport staff familiar to them confirmed that indeed the couple had checked in and had been cleared, only waiting to board the plane.
But the police and airport management who had promised to assist them trace the whereabouts of the couple using CCTV footage, later changed their mind and instead kicked them out of the precincts.
When the People Daily tried to reach the airport for comment, the Kenya Airports Police Unit (KAPU) commandant Michael Kiplagat said he has been away from office for almost two weeks and referred us to a Mr Temba, who claimed to be in a meeting and promised to call, which he never did.
But sources within the airport intimated to the People Daily that the couple was arrested by ATPU which is mulling deporting them to Israel to face unspecified charges.
With each passing day and as desperation creeps in Mugwe and Esther are now only asking the government to tell them why it is holding their daughter and her husband.