A village in Murang’a County was treated to a panicky evening as dozens of police officers laid siege on a house where a woman kidnapped six days ago was being held. And after the guns fell silent, two prison warders were arrested after some of the money extorted from the family of Margaret Waitherero, was traced to their mobile phones.
Thursday night saw a dramatic and bloody rescue, which ended with the death of three suspects, one of them a 70-year-old woman.
Gunshots rent the air in the sleepy Irewa village, about 15 kilometres from Murang’a town shortly after 7.30pm in an exchange of fire between the officers and kidnappers.
The school employee in Maragua was the captive of Wambui Muturi, 70, Samuel Kimani Kang’ethe and John Mwangi, who demanded a ransom of Sh3 million. The operation involved a strike team made up of police officers from Murang’a and Nairobi, who posed as Kenya Power employees and had been in the village from 5pm surveying the compound where the victim was being held.
The police had narrowed down the location of the victim using a mobile phone number being used to demand ransom from the victim’s relatives. The kidnappers were holding Ms Waitherero at the granny’s home, a widow whose three sons were violent criminals and have since been gunned down by the police.
Waitherero was locked up in one of four houses in the compound, and the shoot-out ensued after the kidnappers defied an order to release their victim and surrender but instead shot at the police.
In the operation coordinated by Murang’a County Investigation Officer Julius Rutere, the police recovered an A 47 rifle, a homemade gun and four bullets.
The two prison warders attached to Naivasha Prison are currently in custody as persons of interest in the probe after some of the money from relatives of the woman was traced to their phones.
“They were picked from Naivasha after detectives extended their search for those suspected to have been involved in abduction of the Pioneer Sacco manager. The police are also interested to establish the source of the firearms,” said Rutere.
Waitherero was abducted on Friday last week at around 8pm; she was driving to her home in Kiria from Maragua when a vehicle alleged to bear GK registration blocked her way. The armed men then pulled her out of the vehicle, ransacked her hand bag before taking her to their hideout in Irewa village.
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The septuagenarian had been tasked with cooking and keeping watch on the victim as her accomplices demanded ransom from Waitherero’s relatives.
Murang’a County Commissioner John Elungata asked locals to expose criminal elements in their midst. “There is need for the public to pass information to the police,” he said.
Waitherero, who was unharmed but shaken by the ordeal said the abductors intended to kidnap her father but took her instead.