Rita Waeni laid to rest in private burial as family calls for justice

Rita Waeni Muendo was a university student at JKUAT. [Courtesy, Family]

Rita Waeni Muendo, who was murdered at a residential apartment on TRM Drive in Roysambu, Nairobi, and her body found stuffed in a dumpster has been laid to rest.

The 20-year-old student was laid to rest at a private burial ceremony attended only by her family.

The funeral service and burial took place at her parents’ home at Mukimwani Village in Makueni County.

Waeni was due to join her fourth and final year at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Family Spokesperson Dr Lilian Mutea said they resolved to lay Muendo to rest after the remains of her body were handed to the family on February 2, 2024.

Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor did an autopsy on her severed head which revealed that she was strangled to death and then decapitated post-mortem.

Dr Oduor also reported that a blunt object had bruised Waeni’s scalp.

"The main findings were that the head had been chopped off from the neck at the level of C5 (vertebrae on the neck). There was bruising on the scalp caused by a blunt object. We also saw some fractures on bones,” said Oduor while addressing journalists. “I can comfortably conclude that the cause of death was strangulation after which she was decapitated and her body dumped.”

The family urged the police and other investigative agencies to move swiftly and bring Waeni’s killers to book.

“We know that many people have understood the depth of this loss and therefore decision for privacy at this event. We call upon the government to carry out thorough investigations, so that justice for Waeni may prevail,” said Dr Mutea in a statement.

Mutea said they were grateful to all their family and friends and Kenyans from all walks of life who sympathised with them.

“Throughout this painful period, we have also received kind wishes from people all over Kenya and beyond - who have reached out and prayed for our family, even when they did not know us. We are eternally grateful for the kindness shown to us,” she said.

Earlier on, Mutea had said Mueni’s killers had asked for a ransom.

According to her, the late Waeni left her aunt's residence in Syokimau to meet with a friend before her father received a message on January 14, 2024, at 5.00am from her phone number, demanding a ransom of Sh500,000 within 24 hours for her release.

“With this message, the family reported the matter to the police and DCI, and investigations began,” Mutea said.

She said while investigations were going on, additional two messages were sent to the family demanding the ransom.

“Unfortunately, the family did not get further details about the ransom or an opportunity to explore this route. Additionally, some demands were made when she had already been murdered,” Dr Mutea said.

She added, “It is with profound sorrow and broken hearts that we, the Mutea family, address the media today. Our beautiful Waeni, a radiant soul in our lives, was tragically taken from us far too soon, at only 20 years of age.”