The Kenya Forum | 'Trending’: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories - The Kenya Forum

August 18, 2023


In this week’s ‘Trending’ article, we consider the case of Mathee Wa Ngara, Raila Odinga’s dressing down of the US Ambassador and more.

More by Cameron Grant

‘Trending’: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

‘Trending’: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

In this week’s round-up of the biggest news stories breaking in Kenya, we tackle a great many developments from the criminal underworld. We’ve got graft cases from Kitui and Nyeri, news from drug cartels in Nairobi and one piece – because one good news piece is apparently all we’re getting – on the arrest of Finland/Canada Scholarship scam swindler, Governor of Uasin Gishu, Jackson Mandago.

The arrest of Mathee Wa Ngara, or was it?

Mathee Wa Ngara is the alias given to a person some believe to be the kingpin of one of Nairobi’s more notorious drug cartels. On Tuesday, a police sting operation in Ngara suburb of Nairobi was announced as a success. Police recovered marijuana, hard drugs and a reported Kshs 13.4 million in cash. The raid also resulted in four arrests.

Despite that there was no name given alongside the photograph, police social media channels also began peddling the now-viral image of an unassuming looking elderly lady. Though no name corresponded with the image, the raid had been conducted in attempts to bring Mathee Wa Ngara to heel; natural assumptions were forthcoming.

Journalists have since flocked to Ngara in order to give context to this still developing story. They found a pervasive awareness of who Mathee is. The Nation’s article on this story intimates that Ngara residents seemed well aware of who Mathee is. Though those interviewed all remained nameless, knowledge about the infamous cartel leader and her operation seemed easily accessible.

“[S]he enjoys protection from shadowy people”, said one man. Another, a mechanic, spoke of her system of employing local ‘runners’ and how “No one dares to run away with her money. They will be killed. She is that powerful.”

The real name of the woman who was arrested, and who has had her likeness plastered all over the internet, is now known to be Teresia Wanjiru.

According to a rough consensus gauged by Nation journalists as they returned to the scene of the story, most people in Ngara know that the police have arrested the wrong person. Teresia Wanjiru’s family also insist that the police have the wrong woman. Wanjiru’s mother, who was present at her daughter’s arrest, paints a disorganised scene in her description of it.

“The police first arrested another woman, took her to her house and then released her”, said Grace Mwihaki, Ms. Wanjiru’s mother. “Then [they] came back and took my daughter from her shop and she took them to her house.” The police were allegedly surprised at the squalor Wanjiru lived in and stated that all they wanted to do was talk. Then, the story changed and Ms. Wanjiru was in the back of a police van.

This story is far from over but big questions have already arisen. Have the police captured a ruthless drug lord or an innocent elderly lady? The allegation arising from within Ngara is that the police know exactly who Mathee is; she was allegedly arrested last year. If that is the case, why has Ms Wanjiru been arrested and had her photograph plastered all over the internet?

Mr. Joseph Irungu, Ms. Wanjiru’s son, believes that this is yet another case of the police “just had to arrest someone”.

EACC with their hands full: graft cases everywhere

The journalists of this country are so constantly employed in the writing up of stories of graft that there is little that can surprise either the writer or the reader any longer. It seems as if every week there is a new account of bribery or embezzlement from our government offices that a sort of reader’s fatigue sets in when we encounter another one.

This week, without even leaving our own news channel, we have documented four different cases in which the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is presently involved in investigations into a variety of economic crimes.

You can read all of these stories by clicking on the following links:

‘EACC Investigates National Housing Corporation over Ksh100 Million Overpayment’

‘KEMSA Legal Officer Ksh1.5 Million Bribery Allegation after EACC Sting Operation’

‘EACC investigates Charity Ngilu over irregular recruitment’

‘Nyeri County Githima Chief and Land Co-Ordinator Bribery Allegation’

‘National Museums of Kenya paid Kshs 491 million to ‘ghost workers’’

Speaking of graft, Mandago has been arrested

Finally, a good news piece. With last week’s news round-up we gave you a detailed analysis of the Finland/Canada Scholarship scandal. If you want to have a read about that story, how it broke and in which ways Kenyans of X have been responding to it, follow this link.

For the purpose of this article, however, suffice it to say that the Finland/Canada Scholarship scandal isn’t out of the ordinary in graft cases. Students donated money to a County scholarship scheme which only paid out a small sum and did not result in the scholarships promised.

Now, the money is missing and an investigation by the overburdened EACC is underway.

The Governor of Uasin Gishu, Jackson Mandago, has, also, reportedly been arrested. This news may bring some satisfaction to all those who have been affected by this case of missing and, likely, misappropriated funds. However, it does not signify a return of the missing money nor does it amount to giving the victimised students the scholarships they so dearly sought.

There are now reports that the Director of Public Prosecutions here in Kenya is seeking to freeze Governor Mandago’s bank accounts. KTN news has interpreted this as an attempt to go after the Governor’s assets and use them as remittances for the lost funds. There may also be concerns that Mandago may use his resources to flee the country.

Follow the Kenya Forum X page for more on this story as it develops.

Raila promotes the value of Maandamano and warns the US Embassy for overreach

Many of you may well have already seen the fiery speech delivered by opposition leader Raila Odinga. The now-viral clip of the Azimio leader was filmed as he spoke at the Devolution Conference in Eldoret, held to celebrate 10 years since Kenya pledged to devolve certain powers to the counties.

Before Odinga took to the podium, the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, stood up and made a speech to the gathered crowd. Much of what the Ambassador said was in praise of Kenya’s accomplishments; she spoke of the nation’s successes in positioning itself as a regional commercial, ICT and logistics hub.

She also spoke of Kenya’s solidity as a democratic nation and it was with regards to what she said on this topic that she managed to elicit the angry response from Raila Odinga. Whitman called Kenya’s most recent election “the freest, fairest and most credible election in Kenyan history”.

Odinga, who, you will not need reminding, has played an influential part in propelling the opposite narrative, did not take too kindly to this suggestion. When he took to the podium, less than two hours later, he used the platform to say this: “Kenya is not a colony of the United States, keep your mouth shut otherwise, we will call for your recall back to your country”.


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