Trauma as Magistrate Monica Kivuti leaves behind 18-month-old baby

Makadara Law Courts Magistrate Monica Kivuti. [Courtesy]

Exactly one month from now, Monica Njoki Kivuti-Kang'ata would have celebrated her 11th anniversary as a resident magistrate, having joined the judiciary on July 17, 2013.

However, her promising career was tragically cut short, and her life ended in a gruesome murder.

Beyond the headlines and rhetoric from top state officials, this grief is personal. Kivuti, 46, was a mother of three including an 18-month-old toddler.

“Nothing could be as devastating. A young baby is sleeping tonight without the warmth of a mother. This could be any one of us. We need to reflect on this issue and ensure it never happens again,” said Caroline Kabucho, registrar of the Magistrates Court, in an interview with The Standard.

“As her friends and colleagues, we are all rallying around her family and we hope that the baby will be fine even in the absence of the tender loving care of the mother”

She is survived by her husband Mutimu Kang'ata.

Kivuti had devoted her life to the pursuit of justice. Her courtroom presence illuminated the legal proceedings, and her dedication extended beyond the confines of the law. Friends affectionately knew her as “Monny,” a jovial and energetic soul who spoke fondly of her family.

Born and raised in Embu, Monica’s devout Christian upbringing guided her path. She excelled academically, earning a Bachelor of Law from Moi University in 2006 and later a Master’s in International Studies from the University of Nairobi in 2013. Her integrity and values were beyond reproach, making her a respected figure within the judiciary.

Kivuti was shot on Thursday, June 13, by an armed senior police officer while passing judgment on an accused person, believed to the spouse of the officer, at Makadara Law Courts in Nairobi.

“She was a straight judicial servant full of integrity. Her values and morals were beyond reproach,” observed Kabucho.

Before plunging into the judiciary, she worked at Direct Line Insurance.

Chief Inspector Samson Kipchirchir Kipruto, 55, was shot and killed by his colleagues at the court shortly after attacking Magistrate Kivuti.

Three other officers were injured in the incident but are reportedly in stable condition.

“No one would have thought that Monny would not be with us today. We had great plans together, plans to travel and even visit our kin back in the village,” said a colleague.

Friends and colleagues remember Kivuti as a dedicated public servant, meticulous in her work and with an unmatched love for humanity.

"She was a close colleague, always available to exchange perspectives in our legal profession. Kenya has lost a true servant dedicated to dispensing justice within the rule of law," remarked a colleague who was admitted to the bar with the late Kivuti.

Kivuti began her career at the Kiambu Law Courts in 2013, later transferring to the Baricho Law Courts. She rose through the ranks and was posted to the Makadara Law Courts on October 12, 2021, where she served as principal magistrate until her untimely death.

A journalist who covers the Makadara Law Courts recalled: “She was strict, especially in cases involving children. She always barred cameras to protect their identities. There was a day I tried sneaking a camera into the courtroom. She noticed and stopped proceedings until I stepped out. It wasn’t a shock to me; we all knew her, but she did it with a lot of respect,” added the journalist.

Kivuti’s death reverberated beyond the courtroom. President William Ruto condemned the attack, emphasising that such violence against judicial officers is unacceptable. Chief Justice Martha Koome declared June 18 a Judicial Day of Mourning, Remembrance, and Prayers for Hon. Kivuti. She also directed that judicial services would no longer be conducted in makeshift structures to enhance security.

Faith Odhiambo, President of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), mourned Kivuti, saying: “This is a heart-wrenching moment for the legal fraternity and our country. Hon. Kivuti was a dedicated servant of justice. This tragedy must prompt us to improve the security and safety of court officers to fulfill our constitutional ambition of access to justice for all.”

Kivuti actively engaged in CSR activities at her church and served on several boards. Her contribution in setting up a SGBV centre at Jamhuri Police Station and also an outreach program for needy children at the Nairobi Chapel has been highly acclaimed

She will be buried on June 22 at her Yatta home in Machakos County.