Who wanted police informer dead?

The vehicle whose occupant was killed by unknown gunmen on Tuesday night along Thika Road. The owner is said to be from Kasarani area, Nairobi and the motive of the shooting is yet to be known. [Courtesy]
Mystery surrounds the identity of the motorist killed in a hail of bullets on Thika Superhighway last week, as reports indicate he had links with law enforcement agencies.

While family members of Wilson Mwangi Munene, who was found dead in his Mercedes Benz after the vehicle was sprayed with bullets, cannot explain what he did for a living, sources indicated he could have been a police informer.

It is a sentiment shared by some of his close family members, even as police avoid discussing the matter.

Munene was gunned down by unknown assailants near the Vincentian Retreat Prayer Centre near Thika Town in what appeared to be an execution, given that his car was sprayed with more than 40 bullets.

At his rural home in Nyeri County, family members are demanding to know who killed Munene, and why.

Matatu crew

Just who would want Munene dead, and why? Was he working for the Government? If yes, what proof is there that he did? Why would friends and some residents of Kasarani, including matatu crew, insist that he was a known security operative?

Interviews with sources that claim to have known Munene say he hang around detectives in elite squads and even lived like them.

It is no wonder then that many assumed he was either one of them or an informer. In the end, however, Munene's life was cut short, at 33 years, ironically in a manner best destined for a hardened criminal topping a police hit list.

His car is said to have veered off the road, under a hail of bullets, whose impact nearly yanked off the passenger seat. The number of bullets, according to various accounts, was anywhere between 40 and 100, a clear indication that Munene was not meant to survive.

Sources paint a picture of a man who felt he was living on borrowed time. Before his death, Munene reportedly erased photos from his social media account, fearing they could be used to trace him.

A source acquainted with him says he was aware that 'they' were coming for him.

A closer examination of his life reveals a complex character of a man whose flirtations with both criminals and police leaves anyone guessing as to who finally 'got' him.

The source also claims he had intimated that certain law enforces had told him to 'take care' as they could 'finish him.'

Information traced back

The source says information he was giving to police on criminal activities was being traced back to him by criminals and Munene suspected that rogue officers were setting him up. Nothing was stolen from Munene's car.

The father of one was reportedly waylaid by three men in hoodies, and who were driving a black vehicle. But it appears his wallet was ransacked and ATM and ID cards removed. The source said it was police who called Munene’s sister after retrieving her number from his phone.

It is, however, not clear how the police accessed the password that protected phone.

Munene, other sources said, was well-known to police in Kasarani and Nairobi Area Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters. There have been claims he could also have had a dalliance with the disbanded Flying Squad.

Attempts to probe the nature of this relationship, if any, from police have been futile.

Munene's family is preparing for his burial at their Gakindu home in Mukurweini on Saturday. Details on the nature of work Munene did, even among his family members, have been scanty.

'Police informer'

His mother Jacinta Wangare told The Standard yesterday that her son worked with the Government. “I do not know what exactly he did. I just know he worked for the Government,” she said.

But while she was in the dark on the nature of her son’s business, her elder son Erastus Maina maintained that the victim was a police informer.

Ms Wangare learnt of her son’s death from one of her church friends who visited her on Thursday and said he had seen on Facebook that someone had been shot and was in a white Mercedes "like Mwangi’s". “I was shocked and called another of my sons, who asked me to give him time to talk to the police so that he could tell me exactly what happened. That was when I knew it was true,” she recalled.

In his rural home, the most conspicuous thing about Munene was his Mercedes Benz, one which even the local boda boda operators identified him by.

“We don’t know him well, but we usually see the white Mercedes around town and we saw on Facebook that it had been shot at,” one boda boda operator at Gakindu Shopping Centre said.

Other acquaintances described Munene as a happy-go-lucky fellow, who loved to shoot pool at his favourite bar off Thika Road.

According to the family, Munene had never expressed any fear for his life even though he was cagey about his affairs.

He married recently and had a two-year-old child. “He came home frequently. He was here last month to attend a former classmate’s funeral. Sometimes, he would pass and tell me that he had to leave because he had been called to work,” said Wangare.

In his last visit, Munene brought his mother two sweaters and a shawl that she had not even unpacked yet. Wangare says Munene was the most prosperous of his siblings and the one they relied on whenever they needed financial assistance.

Younger siblings

She said Munene, a third born in a family of eight, had seen most of his younger siblings through school since 2002 when he left for Nairobi after completing secondary education.

“He was the one who was helping his father with the medical bills and when we talked on Monday, he sent me money so that I could buy sweaters for some of his younger siblings who are in high school," she said. His father has been sick for a year and seven months and is bedridden," Wangare said.

Maina said their last communication with Munene was about their father’s poor health.

It was Maina that the police contacted when they needed someone to identify Munene's body. He was the one who broke the news of Munene's death to the family.

"It was very shocking for me. I was very fond of him. I was called to Thika to identify his body and write a statement," he said.

But despite his execution, Maina said: "He did not talk about his work so much but he has never told any family member about any threats to his life".

Maina said his brother was "well known in Kasarani and among police officers".

Across social media, users who were familiar with Munene made reference to his interaction with the police. One said he went by the nickname "Mwangi CID", while another recalled that he had helped her trace some con men who had defrauded her.

"I know him. He was, I guess, an undercover police officer, if I'm not wrong," a Facebook user known as Justus said. Another said "everyone in the neighbourhood (Kasarani) knew that Mwangi was working with the police".

There have also been questions about the source of Munene's money.

Relatives thought

"Why are guys concluding he was an informant? Informants are not this rich," a user posed on Facebook.

While some relatives thought Munene worked with DCI, others saw him as just a businessman. One relative said he kept changing vehicles, adding that he had at least three top of the range vehicles. A copy of Munene's eulogy shows he was a businessman till 2013 when “he was employed by Government.”

Now, all his alleged law enforcement friends are nowhere to be seen. A source says no one wants to be associated with him.

The Standard could not get a comment from Kasarani Police Station, where Munene allegedly spent his time.

When reached for comment, Kiambu DCI Amos Teben said: "A team of detectives from DCI headquarters is investigating the incident. We don’t know if he (Munene) had any links with police and the motive of the shooting. We know he was shot by unknown people."

Only a handful of relatives and neighbours attended a Monday meeting to plan Munene's funeral held in Nairobi. Those in attendance were tasked to raise Sh350, 000 to finance funeral expenses.

A driver who plies the Kasarani route said “Willy”, as he was popularly known, spent most of his time with cops.

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