It was a sad moment for a friend of the slain Kianjokoma brothers as he narrated their last moments together.
John Mugendi Njeru spoke of the pain of losing his childhood friends Benson Njiru Ndwiga and Emmanuel Mutura Ndwiga through what is suspected to be police extra-judicial killing, just hours after they met in a local joint to while away the evening.
“I did not believe that my friends, age mates and schoolmates had died. I was confused when I received the news of their death when we were just with them the previous night,” said Njeru.
Njiru and Mutura were allegedly killed on the night of August 1 last year, but the pain of their deaths was evident in Njeru’s voice as he recalled their last evening together.
The 19-year-old was the first witness in the case in which police officers Benson Mputhia, Consolata Njeri, Martin Wanyama, Nicholas Sang, Lillian Cherono and James Mwaniki are facing trial over the murders in Kianjokoma village in Embu North sub-County.
According to Njeru, he schooled with Mutura, who was his age mate, at primary school, while Njiru, then aged 22, was his college mate. He recalled how hi and Mutura fed dogs after school.
He said that on that day at around 7.30pm, he received a call from Njiru asking his whereabouts since they had something to discuss.
“He told me they had closed their parents’ pork butchery and that he wanted to meet me. I was with my other friend called Chris Dan. The brothers came and met us,” said Njeru.
He told the court they decided to go for drinks at a nearby bar, but the two brothers were hesitant, fearing hangovers the next day at work.
He said that at around 10.01pm, they left the club and were walking home when they noticed a police vehicle. Njiru told them to run to escape the police, who enforcing curfew rules.
“We started running back but Emmanuel tripped and fell. His brother Benson went back to encourage him to continue running while I went a few metres and hid in a ditch,” said Njeru.
From his hideout, he saw a police officer with a club walking towards Mutura, and when he caught up with the other brother (Njiru), he started hitting him with the club before bundling him into the police vehicle.
Fearing for his life, Njeru sneaked back home, which was just three minutes walk from the brothers’.
The next morning, he received a call from the two brothers’ father, asking him if he knew where they were. He explained what had happened the previous night, prompting the family to commence a search at the police station.
“We also agreed with other friends to look for them at the police station, but when we reached Kianjokoma market, we heard rumours from one of the traders that they were dead,” he said.
Yesterday, Njeru took to the witness box after the prosecution made its opening statement in which they promised to nail the six police officers.
Senior State prosecutor Tabitha Ouya told Justice Daniel Ogembo that they will demonstrate that the deaths were not an act of God but were caused by the conduct of the police officers.
“It is regrettable that the accused police officers could have used reasonable means to avoid the deaths even if the brothers had violated curfew orders. Our case is that the killing was premeditated, planned and executed by all the accused persons,” said Ouya.
She added that it was wrong for the accused persons to end the lives of young, promising men who were only helping their parents to run their businesses, and that it was painful that they died at the hands of people who should have protected their lives.
The hearing continues.