Australian killed in terror attack had come to see Kenyan girlfriend

Kenyatta University student Wsylovians Meli, whose Australian boyfriend died in Tuesday's terror attack. (Edward Kiplimo, Standard)
Marcus Rodriguez landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 8.40pm on Sunday, looking forward to seeing his Kenyan girlfriend Esylovians Meli.

Mr Rodriguez had first met Ms Meli, a university student and fashion designer, in 2017 when he first came to Kenya from Australia.

A small difference arose between Rodriguez and Meli on where he should stay for the close to two weeks he planned to be in the country.

The 36-year-old Australian insisted on putting up at a hotel in Karen, but his girlfriend was of the idea that he lives in a hotel nearer to the Central Business District. She settled for dusitD2.

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It is at this boutique hotel on 14 Riverside Drive that fate conspired to have the life of Rodriguez brutally snuffed out by terrorists who stormed the establishment on Tuesday afternoon.

Lover’s regret

“I regret making him change his mind. He could be alive now if I had not put my foot down on having him stay at dusitD2,” Ms Meli told The Standard at the Chiromo mortuary yesterday, fighting back tears.

The third-year student at Kenyatta University was among hundreds of anxious friends and relatives who had thronged the mortuary to identify the bodies of their slain loved ones.

“I insisted on the hotel because it was easily accessible for me from town. I checked him in on Sunday night,” Meli said.

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Yesterday, Meli recounted that on a fateful afternoon, the love of her life planned to go out swimming. But for the second time, she had a different idea.

She told the man there was no way he could go swimming alone. He had to wait for her. He reluctantly yielded to her demand.

“Maybe if he went out swimming as he wanted, he could be alive,” said Meli.

On the afternoon of the attack, Meli was in class at Kenyatta University’s main campus on Thika Road. Her phone was in silent mode.

She told The Standard that after her class, she checked her phone and realised she had missed eight calls from her love. She called him back but could not reach him.

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Nightmare started

Meli said she went online and that is where she read about the terrorist attack on dusitD2. That is where her nightmare started.

She boarded a boda-boda to dusitD2 but the place had been cordoned off.

At a few minutes past 1 am, Meli said she received a call from Rodriguez, who, in a hushed voice, said they had been marooned by the terrorists.

The call lasted four minutes before he suddenly hang up. There were gunshots in the background. That was the last time she heard from him.

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“We planned to travel to Naivasha over the weekend. He is gone forever. He did not even bid me goodbye,” said a distraught Meli.

Marcus RodriguezEsylovians Meli14 Riverside Drive attack