Kenyan flees after murder in New Zealand

Moves broadened to have a Kenyan man suspected of killing a fellow countryman in the city of Christ Church taken back to New Zealand as police named the victim.

Lydia Munene is lying in a coma in a New Zealand hospital following the attack.

Lydia Munene is lying in a coma at a New Zealand hospital following the attack.

The slain man was Stephen Mwangi Maina, 38, a close friend of Lydiah Muthoni Munene, 34, who was found badly injured in a dwelling in suburban Avonhead on Monday night. She was covered in a blanket in a bedroom of the house while Mr Maina was found dead on a bed in the same room.

Lydia’s estranged husband, Samuel Ngumo Njuguna, 39, flew out of New Zealand at the weekend (September 13), headed for Kenya. He boarded a Sunday morning flight from Auckland International Airport and is understood to have arrived in Kenya on Tuesday morning (September 15). Mr Njuguna and Ms Lydia Munene have lived in New Zealand for many years.

New Zealand’s Police have alerted Interpol and Kenyan police in an effort to track down Njuguna. However, the move may run into legal challenges as there is no extradition agreement between Kenya and New Zealand.

Read more of this story from the Kenya Stockholm blog >>

Additional reporting from Kim Media Group >>


US police blame Kenyans over cold murder case

A homicide detective in the United States has criticized the Kenyan community for failing to provide crucial information that could lead to the arrest of persons responsible for killing a Kenyan woman and her two daughters in August 2007.

Jane Kuria and her two daughters, Isabella and Annabel: brutally murdered in the US.

Jane Kuria (centre) and her two daughters, Isabella and Annabel: brutally murdered in the US.

“We strongly believe the Kenyan community in metro Atlanta can be invaluable in helping us unravel this case”, said lead investigator Detective John Dawes. He appealed to anyone with information to share it with the police.

On August 1st 2007, Kenyans woke up to the sad news of the murder of Jane Kuria, 45 and her two daughters, Isabella, 19 and Annabel, 16 in their Powder Springs home. Jane’s last born son Jeremy Kuria, who was seven years old and who was seriously injured during the attack, has since recovered and relocated to Kenya. His visiting cousin, Peter Thande, 10, was also beaten by the attackers.

Two years on, questions still linger as the waiting continues but the ferocity of the attack clearly shows that whoever was behind the killings was, “very angry with Jane,” according to Det. Dawes.

More details on this story from the Kenya Empowerment Newspaper >>

Why Cholmondeley got off easy

Kenyans are outraged at the light sentence given to British aristocrat Tom Cholmondeley for the killing of a stonemason three years ago. However, the 8 month sentence for manslaughter was a result of behind the scenes considerations based on British interests in its former colony.

The High Court of Kenya in Nairobi.

The High Court of Kenya in Nairobi.

The case against Tom Cholmondelely has attracted widespread global publicity since his arrest in 2006. Cholmondelely was charged with the murder of Robert Njoya, an incident that took place in Cholmondelely’s family ranch. Njoya was a stonemason who was apparently engaging in illegal hunting inside the Cholmondelely ranch. At the time, Cholmondelely claimed he felt he was in danger from the illegal hunters hence his decision to shoot.

As it happens, Cholmondelely is heir to the Delamere family aristocracy. He is a direct descendant of Lord Delamere, the man who played a key role in establishing the British colony of Kenya early in the 20th Century. The Delamere family still remains wealthy and influential in independent Kenya and own thousands of acres of land in the Great Rift Valley.

Cholmondelely’s father is the current Lord Delamere and Cholmondelely is next in line to inherit the title. The prospect of a noble man inheriting a Lordship while languishing in an African jail drove the British authorities to put pressure on the Kenyan government to go easy on Cholmondelely.

Promises of support for the coalition government, including aid packages, were dangled before President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. However, the Cholmondelely case faced a serious public relations complication.

Cholmondelely had killed a wildlife ranger just a year before the Njoya killing. He claimed self defence, arguing that the ranger trespassed into the family ranch while drunk and armed. Cholmondelely was taken to trial but the government, through the Attorney General, dropped the case under pressure from the British. Instead of Cholmondelely learning a lesson, he went ahead and did it again.

Aware of Cholmondelely’s status as a British nobleman, it has been quite obvious since Njoya’s death in 2006 that the Kenyan government was reluctant to prosecute. However, public outrage was seething against a man who was shooting Africans. There was no choice but to keep Cholmondelely in custody during the course of the trial. Indeed, protestors blocked the Nairobi – Nakuru highway in protest over the government’s lucklustre handling of the case.

Early in May, Justice Muga Apondi reduced the murder charge against Cholmondelely to manslaughter. Cholmondelely’s defence successfully argued that the killing of Njoya was not murder because there was no prior intention to kill. According to Kenyan law, a suspect is guilty of murder if it is proved that there had been a plan to kill, what in legal terms is called “malice aforethought.” Since the prosecution could not prove intent, the judge had no option but to go for manslaughter or accidental death.

After Cholmondelely was convicted hardly a fortnight ago, speculation raged regarding the length of time he would serve in jail. Kenyan criminal law specifies a maximum life sentence for manslaughter but does not specify a minimum. In past cases, suspects have been sentenced for as little as a day in jail for manslaughter.

The initial date for sentencing had been scheduled for May 12 – last Tuesday. On that day, an unprecedented turn of events unfolded in the Kenyan courts: Cholmondelely pleaded for leniency on grounds that he would compensate the family of the late Njoya! Even more curious was a statement by Njoya’s widow that she would not mind Cholmondelely going free as long as he compensated her family for the loss of a breadwinner. She argued that she would not want Cholmondelely’s wife to suffer by being denied a husband because she knew what it was like to lose a loved one. Perhaps it escaped her attention that Cholmondelely is divorced.

From last Tuesday, it was obvious that Cholmondelely was going to get a light sentence. With the public spotlight very much on the courts, the government could not risk letting Cholmondelely walk away from courts. A compromise was reached with the British and that explains why Cholmondelely will walk out of jail 8 months from now.

Last time Cholmondelely got a reprieve for killing someone, he repeated the same crime in less than a year. The Kenyan government had better pray very hard that the future Lord Delamere does not develop a renewed thirst for human blood.


Picture of Kenyan High Court by CokeeOrg


Bantu Mwaura funeral today

Human rights activist, poet and writer Bantu Mwaura is to be laid to rest in Nairobi today, just a short distance from where his body was found last weekend.

Bantu Mwaura: 1969 - 2009. Picture by the University of KwaZulu Natal

Bantu Mwaura: 1969 - 2009. Picture by the University of KwaZulu Natal

Bantu will be buried at 2pm, at Nairobi’s Langata cemetery. His body was discovered in a residential area within the Langata area.

The circumstances leading to his death remain murky. According to an article in Property Kenya, an autopsy certified the cause of death as ‘chemical poisoning’. Media reports had indicated that a bottle of poison was found next to Bantu’s body. Investigations continue into how the poison was administered – and by whom.

In the week since his death, tributes have poured from across the world from people who admired his personality and his work.

A student whom Bantu taught at the University of Nairobi described him as a leading light in Kenya’s theatre, a top script writer and theatre director of great repute. “Bantu’s death is a great loss to Kenya’s entertainment industry and his contribution to theatre will be greatly missed,” wrote Temesi Mukani in the Haiya website.

Shailja Patel, writing in Property Kenya, recalls her first meeting with Bantu.

The first time I met Bantu Mwaura, a few years ago, he showed me, unprompted, his cellphone display: A photo of his wife, Susan, and two children. When he told me his daughters’ names: Makeba (after Miriam Makeba) and Me Katilili (Kenyan woman who led her Giriama people in armed struggle against the British), I teased him: ‘No pressure there, huh? No burdens of history on two gorgeous children?” He laughed, his face alight with love and pride in his family.

Mbugua wa Mungai, another colleague of Bantu, recalls their student days in the Kenya Stockholm website.

I recall vividly our first week as freshers at KU when there was a minor march to the administration block over some minor grievance (attested to by the fact that the university was not closed).

Bantu was one of the first students to be made a non-resident; the irony is that even if he was not on campus at the material time of these events, the administration kicked him out of the university halls of residence anyway, just to make an example out of the man. Of course it was easy to victimise him because with his dreadlocks; he stood out. Later if we, his colleagues in literature classes, probed him about this matter, he would simply retort that “it just shows the irrationality of the system…judging people simply by their looks.” He ignored but never forgot this particular matter …

You can read some of the articles written in remembrance of Bantu Mwaura.

Bantu Mwaura Murdered

The Man With the Mau Mau Spirit

Mbugua wa Mungai’s memories.

Brave struggle that gave way to bleak end

The Tragedy of Bantu Mwaura

New Zealand journalist murdered in Nairobi

Posted on May 30, 2008 by kenyanobserver

New Zealand journalist, Trent Keegan, 33, was found murdered and left in a ditch along a Nairobi street on Wednesday.

Now, the government of New Zealand is calling for a thorough investigation into the circumstances behind his murder after details came out this morning that his head was bashed, had fatal wounds and foul play was suspected.

Mr Keegan worked as a freelance journalist and was based in Ireland. He was in Kenya on an assignment when he was murdered.