A tale of obsession as ex-MCA found guilty of murder

When Wilson Mwangi, Joyce Njambi and Samuel Njoroge were presented in court over the murder of Lucy Njambi. [File, Standard]

To the public, former Riruta Ward Representative Samwel Ndung’u cut the image of a stoic and charming leader.

He won over his constituents’ hearts minds to clinch the seat.

Nevertheless, when he donned the cloak of a husband to his wife Lucy Njambi, testimonies in court painted him as the devil incarnate - heartless, venomous, violent and obsessive.

On Friday, the High Court condemned him, alongside a woman said to be his girlfriend, Joyce Mungai, and one Wilson Munyua to years behind bars. 

Here is the story of a powerful MCA who was consumed by his anger.

On January 24, 2018 at around 9pm, Anne Wanjiru, a resident of Mugumoini on Kiambu Road, decided to bid goodbye to her friends, Mr and Mrs Manyura, who had visited.  

Wanjiru’s friends had brought her cooking gas. As they exchanged the cylinders, the three heard hushed screams down the road. The trio rushed towards where the scream came from. To their shock, a naked lady who with fresh burn marks.

Wanjiru rushed back to the house and brought water to soothe the burns and a lesso to cover the nudity of the woman whom she later identified as Njambi.

Njambi was rushed to Kiambu hospital, then later transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where she succumbed. Perhaps Ndung’u thought that his murder plot was perfect. He had staged an abduction where his wife was raped, tortured and then doused with acid.

However, in her deathbed, Njambi spilled the beans that led to the arrest of Ndung’u, Mungai and Munyua.

Another suspect escaped the dragnet. Njambi was a victim of gender-based violence. From testimonies before court, Ndung’u verbally and physically abused her. He accused her of being useless ‘except in bed.’ 

He also accused her of ‘sleeping with uncircumcised men’.  If he was not abusing her, he beat her senseless.

In one occasion in 2017, the court heard that Njambi had asked her parents to take care of her child as the man badly beat her on the head and the ribs.

Before she was abducted, Njambi had bought some salon equipment to start her life afresh. The state called 38 witnesses. Among them was Njambi’s grandmother Cucu Gachambu.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) story to the case was that Ndung’u and Njambi’s love had hit the rocks yet he was so obsessed with her that he chose to kill her.

He could not fathom his wife being with another man after they parted ways.

What boiled Ndungu’s murderous thoughts was a text message from one Kiiru who sent Njambi a text with the name ‘bae’ (baby).

Justice Joel Ngugi (now a Court of Appeal Judge) heard that some unknown men went after Kiiru at his home in Gatundu. He reported the incident to the police.

Kiiru’s mother went to an extent of sending him to Dubai for his safety and pleading with Njambi to return to her husband in a bid to keep him safe.

When things did not go well, Kiiru’s mother sought to introduce Ndung’u to another young woman who could become his girlfriend.

The young woman was Mungai. She ended up a participant in Ndungu’s narcissist plot. She bought the sulfuric acid at Sh1,500 and brought the killers.

Call data, car movements, witnesses and Njambi’s dying account nailed the three.

Samuel Mwangi who was Ndung’u’s driver, testified that his boss had accused his estranged wife of infidelity and had vowed to “put the matter to an end”.

Mwangi told the judge that Ndung’u threatened to kill a 22-year-old man whom he said he suspected was having an affair with his wife.

The witness told the court that on January 24, the day Njambi was kidnapped, Ndung’u told him that he would not allow his wife to sleep around with uncircumcised men.

He also testified that he saw some substance being transferred to Ndungu’s car. When Lydia Nduta took to the witness stand, she told Justice Ngugi that her mother on December 18 called her and told her that a group of men, which she later learnt included the former MCA, visited their home in Gatundu South on several occasions looking for her son, Samuel Kiiru.

Ms Nduta, who operates a shop in Ruiru town, said her mother informed her that the former ward rep had accused her son (Nduta’s) of having an affair with his wife. She told the court that her son denied the claims, but admitted that he was in communication with Njambi because she was a former classmate.

Former Riruta Member of County Assembly (MCA) Samuel Ndung’u.

The court heard that Kiiru told his mother and uncle that the former MCA had sent him death threats in text messages.

The threats, the court heard, were reported at the Gatundu Police Station and police had summoned Ndung’u. During the meeting, Ms Njambi denied having an affair with Kiiru and also denied having ended her marriage with the former ward rep because of Kiiru.

Esther Nyambura, an aunt of Njambi, told the High Court that her niece identified her assailants before she died.

She said Njambi told her she had been raped and then attacked with acid. The witness said that the deceased told her at the Kiambu Level 5 Hospital that her former husband had attacked her.

She told the court that on January 24 at 10pm, the family received a call from a woman who told them to go to Kiambu Level 5 Hospital to see Njambi, who had been badly injured.

The aunt said she drove from Karembu village in Gatundu South in the company of Njambi’s grandmother, Margaret Gachambi, and arrived at midnight.

“On reaching the hospital I saw Njambi, who was badly injured and in a lot of pain. I asked her if she knew who I was and she replied that I was her aunt. I then asked her who had done that to her and she replied that it was Baba Njoroge (Ndung’u) and that I should ask him,” Nyambura said.

She testified that shortly afterwards the doctors ordered the relatives out so that they could prepare Njambi for the transfer to Kenyatta National Hospital for specialised treatment.

“When we reached Kenyatta National Hospital, I asked her again who had done that to her and she replied that it was Ndung’u. The doctor asked her the same question and she repeated the answer,” she said.

Fidelis Muthoni, also her aunt told the court that her niece went to her home in Kawangware before the incident crying.

“I asked her what was wrong and she said she could not persevere living with her husband nay more. She told me that Ndung’u was using abusive language against her, including telling her that she was sleeping with uncircumcised boys,” said Muthoni.

Muthoni told the court that Njambi told her she wanted to leave him.

On December 9, 2017, Muthoni added, she received a text message from Njambi that she said worried her.

“Njambi sent me a text message saying: ‘In case I die, take care of Emmanuel (her son) for me. Baba Njoro amenichapa sana kichwa na mbavu.’ When I later asked him why he had beaten my niece, Ndung’u said it was because he was angry,” she said.

A few days later, Njambi requested her aunt to ask Ndung’u why he had asked her (Njambi) to remove her underwear, ostensibly to check whether she had slept with uncircumcised boys. Muthoni informed the court that on January 23, the day before she was attacked, Njambi passed by her home to pick up some salon equipment she had left there.

“My niece told me she would not go back to her husband and that she had decided to start her own salon. She also said the dowry Ndung’u had paid to her family on November 25, 2017 be returned to him,” said the aunt.

Gachambi, Njambi’s grandmother, testified that her granddaughter was not happy and had an acrimonious marriage. She said the family had had many meetings to try to reconcile the two and at one time she told Ndung’u to give her granddaughter time to think about their marriage.

In his defence, he flatly denied that he killed his wife or in any way participated in her murder. He insisted that he was in a healthy and loving relationship with the deceased despite minor disagreements like all marriages.

He stated that he had no reason to kill her. Ms Mungai also denied being part of the plot and bringing the killers. Mwangi on the other hand insisted he knew nothing about the murder but admitted knowing Mungai and being seen at the abduction scene.

Justice Ngugi found that the dying victim’s account, call logs, eye witnesses, and Njambi’s family sealed evidence in support of finding the trio guilty of murder.

They will now face the wrath of the law.

“I have come to the conclusion that the circumstances here are such they weave a web of guilt around the accused persons from which they cannot escape and from which facts and circumstances the court is entitled to draw no other reasonable inference save their guilt beyond a reasonable  doubt,” said Justice Ngugi.