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HAVENS FOR MURDER

By Jane Mwangi

What do Ol Joro Orok, Bungoma and Moi’s Bridge town have in common? They are all going through a series of mysterious murders that have left their residents in a constant state of anxiety for their safety. In all three towns the law enforcers have not made even a single arrest to ease the tension.

Take the case of Ol Joro Orok which boasts significant investment in the hotel industry and is a thriving agricultural hub. Since the beginning of this year, a cloud of crime has hung ominously over the once bustling municipality. Some of the victims have been raped and tortured before being killed. Only two of the murders are similar in pattern, such as those dubbed the “tunneling murders”.

One of the survivors was only too eager to talk to a reporter because as she says the police have never questioned her about her grueling experience. When walking home from work one day she was accosted by two men who knocked her on the head and tried to drag her through her kei apple fence. She was one of the lucky ones as the attackers were interrupted by the sound of her son’s approaching motorcycle as he headed out to look for her. Her attackers left
behind a hat and boots.

Sadly not so lucky was 8 year old Purity Wanjiru whose mutilated body was found in a field near a shopping centre, a day after she had left home for school. Her grandmother Grace Waweru reports that the killers are known but have not been arrested. She therefore lives in a constant state of morbid vigilance fearing that her granddaughter’s slayers will come back and kill her and her daughter, especially because she is still seeking justice.

What is most disturbing about the Ol Joro Orok murders is that there are suspects known to the police but no arrests. Consider Dishon Nderi, a 27 year old who works at Primrose Flower Farm.

He was a primary suspect in the murder of 57 year old Mary Macharia who was raped, tortured and murdered last year, December 17. Her naked body was found in a field near a cattle dip, 200 metres from her home. Nderi was tied to the murder by a phone call that was made to the victim from his phone on the day of her death. Nderi defended himself by claiming that a friend had borrowed his phone to call his wife. The friend was never questioned according to Nderi.

Dishon Nderi was again mentioned as a suspect in one of the tunneling murders, so called because of the means by which the assailants gained access to houses of the victims. The victim, Alice Wanjiru a 23 year old mother of one was asleep in the house together with two of her siblings and a daughter when the attack occurred. Wanjiru died in hospital while recovering from her injuries.

She was six months pregnant. Remarkably, even though Nderi has been positively identified by the sister of the victim as the attacker, he has not been arrested even after another burrowing murder occurred on April 22. The attacker even left behind items of clothing; a jacket and a knife.

The items left behind in at least two of the murders could be teeming with DNA evidence that would put the attackers away but the police chose to simply ask the wife of Nderi to confirm if the items belonged to her or her husband. Her denial was enough proof of Nderi’s innocence apparently and all he has to do is to report to the Ol Joro Orok police station every week.

The defence of the police boss in this subcounty, Isaac Ruto is that the murders are caused by family land disputes or are crimes of passion. Does it mean that the killers should go scot free? Bungoma’s cases may be different because they occurred in the wake of the Covid – 19 crisis which brought on a curfew that criminal gangs have taken advantage of to terrorise the residents and commit violent robberies.

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