Will taskforce help tame senseless killings?
There is an increase in murders across the country with at least 50 people killed in the last one week, according to police reports.
The killings, mostly as a result of criminal activities, have ripple effects that go far beyond the loss of life, since they also blight the lives of the deceased’s family members and the community.
Ironically, the home remains the most dangerous place, especially for women, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2019 Global Study on Homicide.
On Sunday, the body of Shallon Mbogi was found in her house in Dandora Phase 2. She had been strangled and her legs tied. Police said her husband, Melvin Nandwa, who is the main suspect, has not been traced.
In another incident on Friday, Michael Gitonga, 38, and his wife Wanjiku Kiburi, 32, were on Friday stabbed to death in their home in Rurii village in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua county.
Their bodies were found in different rooms by a relative who visited their house after Gitonga failed to report to work where he sells potatoes.
A day earlier in Kitui, Sila Mulatya is suspected to have stabbed his wife several times in the legs, chest and back, killing her on the spot. The 26-year-old man then attempted suicide by slitting his throat.
Out of control
Another unresolved murder is that of a 73-year-old woman and her 47-year-old daughter who were on September 22 found murdered in their house in South B.
Police said Judy Wanjiku Mwai, and her daughter Catherine Nyaguthii Mwai, had been strangled. Nothing was stolen from the house, ruling out the possibility of a robbery.
The Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, however, says media reports of murder cases might make it look like the numbers are on the rise. “There is increased reporting and exposure by the media making it appear like the situation is out of control,” Kinoti told People Daily.
But Police Spokesman Charles Owino attributed the surge in murders to the breakdown of the social fabric.
“Nowadays people do not find it difficult to kill or kill themselves,” he said.
Worldwide, it is estimated that about 70,000 people are killed every year by gangs, according to the UNODC.
Among the latest cases is the killing of three people who were found murdered in Gatundu South, just a day after the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and a team of security officials visited the area.
The bodies of the middle-aged men, who police say, had been strangled elsewhere, were dumped in different coffee plantations in Gachoka and Kimunyu villages.
Prior to Matiang’i’s visit, two residents, Joseph Kibe and Bernard Kiruki, had also been killed in a span of one week by armed robbers.
On Saturday morning, two men were found dead in their car after being shot by unknown gunmen along the Southern bypass. Another man was found in his car, about 500 metres away, in a critical condition with gunshot wounds.
The two dead men were found inside a bullet-riddled Toyota Fielder, while the critically injured man was in a white Toyota Premio. He had been shot in the chest and stomach. Police recovered another number plate—KCJ 451J—inside his car.
The deceased had by yesterday evening not been identified.
Children have also been victims of killings. On September 23, the body of four-year-old Brenda Chepchirchir, who had been reported missing, was found at Ngongongeri farm in Njoro by members of the public.
The naked body had injuries on the genitals and neck and blood was oozing from her mouth, nose and ears. Police said she had been defiled and strangled.
At least three other cases reported in the recent past have been attributed to police recklessness.
On September 8, Baby Dan Githinji, aged two years and nine months, was killed by a stray bullet fired by officers from the Kasarani Police Station.
The officers, identified as Constables Benjamin Ekamis and Stephen Mwangi, are alleged to have shot at an angry crowd that was protesting police harassment and extortion for bribes.
In another case in Endebess, TransNzoia County, five-year-old Daisy Chepkoech was shot by police officers in Mowlem village during an eviction exercise following a court order.
Owino said the two cases were under investigation and appropriate action would be taken. “The two cases could have been as a result of stray bullet or recklessness of the officers. The matters are being investigated and it will be upon the officers to demonstrate that their actions were justified,” he told People Daily.
Failure to bring the killers to book, coupled with low rate of convictions for murder cases, fuel impunity. Conviction rates are low in the country and globally.
According to the 2019 Economic Survey, the total number of murder cases registered increased from 956 in 2017 to 1,065 in 2018, representing an 11 per cent increase.
During the same period, the number of convictions for murder cases obtained at the High Court increased from 354 to 357.
Another effect is that the rise in murder cases stretches the capacity of already overburdened detectives, which affects their capacity to effectively probe the murders.
In some of the killings, the perpetrators have secretly disposed of the bodies. One of the cases now before court is that of the murder of Dutch businessman Tob Cohen.
In another case on September 25, unknown people murdered Romans Ochieng Yona and buried his body on the banks of Nyamitha River, about 200 metres from his home. The body had injuries on the head and face.
Cases recently reported include the murder of Rai Cement Limited’s General Manager Chattan Vyas at his residence in Kericho county.
Detectives say the attackers gained entry into his house through the roof and tied his hands and legs before strangling him. The killers also stole money of unknown amount.
Some of the deaths are a mystery, with neither the killers nor the motives known. On Saturday, 52-year-old Nzalabi Nyae was murdered by unknown people who cut him in the right jaw as he was coming from Mtesa market in Lunga Lunga. On September 23, Salim Abdallah, 37, died at the Nakuru Referral Hospital after he was attacked two days earlier at Ngoswe area of Marigat, Baringo county by unknown people.
Last week, 29-year-old Bob Ouko was stabbed by unknown people in Kianda, Kibera. He died at the Kenyatta National Hospital while undergoing treatment.
Some people, according to police reports, were killed in the course of robbery or where the perpetrators were committing other crimes.
On Sunday, Leonard Kitonga Musembi was shot dead at Mutitu, Kitui county, by armed men who robbed him of Sh80,000
The same day, a mkokoteni operator, Charles Wanjiku, was attacked and killed reportedly by street boys who robbed him of his phone on Kilome Road in Nairobi.
On Saturday, Moses Wanzala, a boda boda rider was killed by unknown people after robbing him of his motorcycle in Nambale, Busia county.
Last week, a night guard, Kenneth Okwa, was murdered at a church he was guarding at Bumuliru village Bumala. The attackers also stole public address system, a generator and other items all valued at around Sh500,000.
Law enforcement officers have also been perpetrators or victims of killings.
On September 10, Samuel Njenga Njogoo was arrested by police officers from Charagita Police Post in Nyahururu on suspicion of theft but died while in police custody.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) is also investigating a case where a matatu driver was allegedly shot and injured by a Deputy Police Commander in Embu.
On August 28, Corporal James Nyakina, Constable Charles Chepkwony and Constable Jackson Kirui, all from Nyamatoki police post, were arrested for the murder of Amos Kemosi Jomo, alias Amos Kereri, 25.
Police reports point to an increase in cases of killings as a result of mob injustice. Some of the killings are due to police inability to take action against known criminals. Yesterday morning, two men were killed on Thika Road by a mob, just a day after residents of City Carton in Buruburu beat Richard Murithi to death on allegations he was terrorising residents.
The deceased had escaped from the slum on June 22 after he allegedly tried to rape a 50-year-old woman.
On September 25, at least six people, including Moris Oyuga Abachaa, were killed in separate attacks. Abachaa was killed by a mob in Maseno.
On September 23, a street boy, Eddie Mwangi, was attacked and killed after he was allegedly found trying to steal from the local PCEA church. Police said irate members of the public descended on him, killing him on the spot.
The same day in Ruiru, an unknown man, was subjected to mob injustice in Gatong’oria village, Ruiru on allegation that he was trying to steal a manhole cover valued at Sh4,000.
Two other people were also killed in Kirima, Kayole last week when they were found in a house of Dennis Odipo. He raised alarm and neighbours responded, killing the two on the spot. One of the suspects was identified as 24-year-old Samuel Musyoka Kithuka.