Tale of the now 'infamous' Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge

The Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge where the body of Churo Amaiya MCA Thomas Minito was found. (Photo: Elvis Ogina, Standard)

At the dusty Ol Donyo Sabuk Township in Machakos County - about 60 kilometres from Nairobi, business goes on as usual. The haggling of prices between sellers and buyers, the hooting of motorcycle operators, hawkers and touts operating the battered passenger vehicles shout their voices hoarse seeking attention of their clients.

About five hundred metres away from all the hustle and bustle, Athi River flows leisurely under the now 'infamous' Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge, which has become a popular spot where people killed under mysterious circumstances are dumped. The Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge separates Kiambu and Machakos counties.

The most recent incident, which has left the entire nation reeling in shock, is the discovery of the body of a Member of Baringo County Assembly (MCA) Thomas Minito who represented Churo Amaiya ward.

Minito's body was found under the Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge on Friday, five days after he went missing.

The chilling murder of Minito, an MCA from Baringo County, which is four counties away from the bridge where his body was found has become even a bigger puzzle given the last time he was seen he was having lunch in Kabarnet Town in Baringo County when two people suspected to be police officers whisked him away.

But this is not the first time the Ol Donyo Sabuk is making it to the news for all bad reasons.

A former Moi University student who disappeared mysteriously in April 2016 was found brutally killed and dumped in Athi River near Ol Donyo Sabuk bridge.

Shukri Mohammed, 24, went missing from his mother's home in Kaptembwo estate, Nakuru town, on April 4 at around 8.35am. His body was recovered by police officers dumped in a river in Ol Donyo Sabuk on April 8.

To date, nothing has come out of the investigations into his brutal murder.

On July 1 2017, bodies of a Nairobi City lawyer Willie Kimani and that of the taxi driver Joseph Muiruri who was with him at the time he went missing were found in Athi River at the Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge.

The 32 year old lawyer went missing along with his taxi driver and client after a court appointment over a week before the bodies were discovered.

No names

None of the residents was willing to speak to this writer on record, preferring to give their aliases.

"There have been more cases here of bodies being dumped than what is reported in the media. In fact, most people only get to hear about such when it is a prominent person like the lawyer who died last year, or the sitting MCA (Minoti)," said one Mutiso*.

"We can't afford to have our names out there because we find it suspicious that at no point has anyone ever been apprehended while dumping the bodies, yet we have a police station nearby," he said.

The battered Ol Donyo Sabuk Bridge is in itself a health hazard in waiting; a ticking bomb waiting to explode.

A better part of the railing on both sides is worn out or vandalised. But the waters in the expansive river littered with the aggressive water hyacinth flow seamlessly to the famous Fourteen Falls downstream.

It is a rather 'lonely' place, with two disinterested police officers 'manning' the bridge from the Machakos end of the bridge. The homes are a safe distance away from the bridge.

At the bridge we meet a police officer from the Homicide Unit who has come to the scene to carry out investigations and assures us that they are determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

"We are soon being joined by forensics experts as we continue with the investigations," he says.

But while the hunt for leads into the possible killers of the Baringo politician and the mystery surrounding the 'killer' bridge, what still remains unclear in the minds of many Ol Donyo Sabuk residents is what makes the bridge such a favourite spot for dumping dead bodies probably killed elsewhere.

"We have never really understood why this particular river and more interestingly this particular bridge has become so popular," says Amina* who is in her sixties.