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Murder of teacher may have had no link with exams

Ms Daisy Mbathe Mbaluka. [Philip Muasya, Standard]

The macabre killing of a primary school teacher, and the burning of her body at Endau in Kitui County has left the country reeling in shock, with hard questions being asked by investigators beyond the excuse of poor exam results.

Ms Daisy Mbathe Mbaluka, a Mathematics and Kiswahili teacher at Ndooni Primary School met her death on Monday morning when an armed mob waylaid her as she took her two daughters back to school. She was hacked with machetes before her body was doused with petrol and set on fire as her frightened daughters took cover in a nearby homestead.

But why would a community, suddenly target a hapless female teacher with such fury? Why would they want to lynch their daughter, born and bred in the area, and their children’s teacher? Why would they want to erase her history completely by burning her body? Why the rage?

Well organised plot

At Makuka and Malalani markets in Kitui East Sub-county, residents discuss her killing in hushed tones, but it is easy to pick an unnerving kind of satisfaction in their tone.

Nobody wants to be identified and those who volunteered to talk to us would do so briefly, then go quiet. But it appears that everybody in the area knew that Mbaluka would be killed.

It was only a matter of time. And her killing has nothing to do with poor exam results. This has been corroborated by Kitui East Sub-county police commander Consaga Malasi who said her death is not in any way related to the parents’ protest over dwindling education standards at the school.

The police are pursuing what they suspect to be a well-organised plot to eliminate the teacher, and her killers seem to have taken advantage of the Monday protest by parents at the school. Ms Mbaluka was chased away and her attackers took advantage of the chaos to piunce on her. “We have delinked her death from anything to do with the school or its performance. Our officers have even visited other neighouring schools and there is no tension at all,” Malasi said. Our investigations revealed that what is being said in whispers that the teacher dabbled in crime, and had terrorised the local community for long. The villagers allege that Mbaluka, in cahoots with armed men, ran an extortion and robbery ring that reigned terror on the community, leaving some people maimed.

They claim that the teacher, a dashing village beauty, used her charm to lure men into her house, where they would later be attacked and extorted by purported husbands.

The latest case, that would look like the straw that broke the camel’s back involves Mutiso Mulwa, a man in his 20s who is currently admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital in critical condition, after he was allegedly brutalised by Mbaluka and two other men at her home.

According to the sources who spoke to us, the teacher invited Mulwa, a neighbour to her house for a party on New Year’s eve. It is alleged that on that night, two men burst into Mbaluka’s house, one brandishing a firearm and claimed that Mulwa was preying on his wife. He was bound with ropes, beaten and forced to call relatives and friends to raise Sh150,000 so as to gain his freedom. Even after raising the money, Mulwa was brutalised some more, concentrating mostly on his genitals.

“We raised the money for his release but they had injured him on his private parts. That is what enraged the local youths who mobilised and vowed to revenge,” said a man privy to the incident. “She was a terrible person. I’m not surprised by what happened to her,” he added.

Another source revealed that Mbaluka was also a cattle trader, and would buy cattle from the locals only for her accomplices to strike in the night and rob the sellers. 

No formal complaint

“People had vowed that the school would not re-open as long as she was a teacher there. We had had enough of her,” he said, adding that the local youth were still hunting down her accomplices in the maiming of Mulwa. Yet another source said that sometime back, the teacher faked the kidnap of her lover and appealed to the community to raise a ransom of Sh200,000. Weeks later, the locals realised they had been lied to.

Officer Malasi confirmed that indeed Mulwa was assaulted at the teacher’s house and recorded statement with the police. He however said they were waiting for him to present a P3 Form so that investigations into that complaint can commence.

“There must be a P3 Form for us to investigate the matter. We will look into that matter when he presents it,” the police boss said. He however noted that there was no other formal complaint filed against the dead teacher.

Endau location chief Nguo Kimanthi said for long, there was disquiet in the community about the teacher’s conduct.

“Her death is as a result of differences with a section of the community. It is not about her school work, only that her killers got an opportunity to strike when parents had visited the school,” the chief said.

“People used to talk ill about her, accusing her of all manner of things, but nothing formally reported to the authorities about her,” he added.

The sentiments were echoed by the Parents Teachers Association chairman for Ndooni Primary School Mutua Mutingu, who insisted that the parents had nothing against the teacher in relation to her work. He denied that any parent participated in her killing.

“Her death has nothing to do with the parents. It is about how she related with the community. There were rumours that she was a criminal,” Mr Mutingu said.

“Parents want the school re-opened. We had no issues with Madam Mbaluka or any other teacher. Our teachers are not under any threat. Her killing should not be an excuse to close the school,” he stated.

The police boss revealed that they had sought help to unravel the motive behind the teacher’s brutal killing.

“We have asked for help from homicide officers in Nairobi and crime experts. We will give them time to do their work and establish the truth,” Malasi said. We could not trace any of Mbaluka’s close relatives who the locals said work and live in other counties.

On Thursday, two men were arraigned at Kitui Law Courts in connection with the killing.