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Daily Nation : February 12th 2014
DAILY NATION Wednesday February 12, 2014 coverstory 3 PHOTOS | JOSEPH KANYI The late George Nderitu, a policeman attached to Central Bank of Kenya in Nyeri, who was killed at Solio Ranch in Nyeri last month. Below: Pathologist Moses Njue before performing a post-mortem examination on Nderitu’s body. If, indeed, this finds its way to the corridors of justice, it will be the first among many such killings that have been reported in the area over the past few months. When we first carried the story in the Sunday Nation last month, a Mr George Kigio wrote to us saying his brother had been killed in a similar way earlier. Mr Kigio said he had read the story with “utter disbelief” because, in September last year, his brother, Harrison Kamau, and three other people, including a game ranger attached to the Tsavo National Park, had been “executed in similar style” as the men in the story”. Harrison Kamau’s body, Mr Kigio informed us, had six gunshot wounds and burn marks all over his body when they found him at the Makindu Hospital Mortuary a week after his execution. The family recorded statements at Larry Kieng identifies one of the dead suspects as Constable George Nderitu, who had been attached to the Central Bank Police Unit. The other is a Mr William Gichui, but nobody knows what he does. Referring to the slain constable, Mr Kieng then sends a warning to officers not to engage in criminal activities as they will be dealt with “ruthlessly” or “we will eliminate them one by one”. Then, the briefing done, we pack our bags and leave Solio. And the story sort of dies. But something keeps nudging me to go back and turn a few stones. Who, for instance, was this wayward police constable George Nderitu? Where did he come from? Did his family ever suspect him of being a poacher? Wasn’t the salary he was earning from Vigilance House adequate enough? My interest in the story takes me to the Nyeri PGH Mortuary, where, on a Friday, I find a number of Constable Nderitu’s relatives hurdled at a corner outside. They seem to be in a foul mood. We all are, what with the foul smell wafting from the morgue and the occasional wailing of a woman unable to hold back the tears. Mzee Naftali Nderitu addresses us first. He is the father of the late Nderitu, and he too was once a police officer. It is clear that he questions the circumstances under which his son met his death. There were burn marks and gun powder around the entry points of the bullets, and this, from his experience in the force, can only mean one thing: his son was shot at close range. “Why didn’t they arrest him and take him to court?” he asks. “Who will protect the police?” His last question is laden with meaning. And, for a brief moment, it finally dawns on me that the middle-aged man we found cold in a thicket in Solio was once a respected member of the society, a law enforcer who now, in death, is accused of breaking the very laws her swore to protect and uphold. As the sad realisation sinks in, Dr Moses Njue, who was once the chief government pathologist but is now hired by the family, moves in to give us details of his postmortem examination. He confirms the burn marks claim and reports that Constable Nderitu received four bullets to the chest, almost at the same spot. This, he explains, means that the subject was stationary when the fatal rounds hit target. Stationary target “The bullet wounds did not show consistency with those sustained in a fierce gun fight because they were very close together,” says Dr Njue. “This can only be possible if they were fired at a stationary target. The first shot should have knocked him over and the other bullets should have hit elsewhere. This shows he had been restrained at one spot.” As he concludes, the doctor brings up another disturbing question: “Why were doctors not called to the scene before the bodies were removed? What was the hurry to take him to the morgue? He was dead anyway!” The presence of a doctor at the scene, he points out, would have answered many questions about how the suspects died and the time of death. “It baffles me how we conduct The bullet wounds did not show consistency with those sustained in a fierce gun fight because they were very close together. This can only be possible if they were fired at a stationary target. Pathologist Njue investigations in this country and this is very costly in the sense that innocent people are put to jail while the guilty get away with it,” concludes Dr Njue. The pathologist’s findings, I had hoped, would settle this matter for me. But they raised even more questions. As I chased the story, somewhere in the Wamura location of Laikipia County, a family was planning to lay to rest their loved one. And, on January 29, Constable Nderitu was lowered to his final resting place without the fanfare expected of a police officer. The ceremony was low-key. There were no former colleagues from the force to give him the usual gun salute. He had served as a police officer but died a thug. The force would have none of him. The constable is buried, but now the dirt is slowly inching towards the fan. While central region head of police operations Ephantus Kihura says investigations into the matter are still ongoing, Constable Nderitu’s friends and relatives have started to question the poaching theory. They say their friend and son was lured to his death, and that, contrary to initial police reports, the man had actually been ferried to the killing spot in a car. The matatu receipt we found at the scene, they argue, is not valid at all. As the mystery deepens, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit says it will provide a lawyer for the family of the late Nderitu in case it wishes to argue its case in a court of law. Mtito Andei Police Station and opened an inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death. “I know that my brother and the other men, one of whom was an ex-military serviceman, were lured into the park by some people who included game wardens and I would be glad if you ran an investigative piece on these deaths,” urges Mr Kigio in the letter. “Most probably we might get to know exactly who is behind these killings,” he adds Bodies dumped Deep in the Mt Kenya forest, residents narrate similar tales. They claim that many people are being reported lost only for their bodies to be recovered dumped in the Sirimon area of Mt Kenya Forest, about 90 kilometres from Nyeri town. In late October, 2013, for instance, more than 80 residents combed the forest looking for the body of Geoffrey Njenga, a farmer who has since disappeared without trace. He was in the company of three friends whose naked bodies were later recovered in the forest on November 1, 2013. The KWS public relations officer, Paul Udoto, says any matter involving the death of a person is handled by the police regardless of the circumstances, while the Director of Criminal Investigations, Ndegwa Muhoro, says any such deaths must be investigated and the matter can only be disposed of by way of public inquest. In the meantime, Constable Nderitu lies in a grave in Laikipia. And, sadly, dead men tell no tales. Do you have information that could help unravel this case? Have you or yours suffered the trauma of losing a relation through such mysterious deaths? Send your reactions to email@example.com. Mzee Nderitu Mathenge, right, consults with pathologist Moses Njue at the Nyeri Provinicial General Hospital last month. Mzee Nderitu questions the circumstances under which his son met his death. There were burn marks and gun powder around the entry points of the bullets, and this, from his experience in the police force, can only mean one thing: his son was shot at close range. Four bullets to the chest.
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