Embu brothers were killed on first day of new business

Benson Njiru, 22 and Emmanuel Mutura were found at Embu Level Five Teaching and Referral Hospital Mortuary. [Family Photos]

The two Embu brothers who died over a week ago were clobbered to death moments after they were arrested for violating curfew rules.

Witnesses say they watched in horror as one of the boys was hit on the head using a baton, while his brother who returned to rescue him met similar fate.

The brothers had earlier that day opened a small pork business at the market and according to their mother, they had very good sales. 

However, everything went horribly wrong leaving a permanent scar on the family.

But fearing for their lives, most of the eyewitnesses have opted to remain silent as family of Benson Njiru, 22 and Emmanuel Mutura, 19 seeks justice. Details from confidential witnesses show the brothers were among about a dozen residents who were rounded up by police on patrol shortly after the start of 10pm curfew on Sunday, August 1. 

Few people are willing to speak out on the events leading to the disappearance and death of the two.

People sit in small groups to discuss last week’s events that have prompted outcry from Kenyans. 

Two witnesses to the heinous crime granted The Standard an interview but not without conditions.

“I will talk to you if you promise not to record or put me on media for security reasons,” the resident said.

Grave preparations for the two slain brothers at Kithangari Village in Embu County on August 9, 2021 [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

He was at the market on the fateful day the brothers disappeared.

“The police arrived, as usual, to enforce the curfew some minutes after 10pm. The two boys were in the company of their friends walking home, about 500 metres from Kianjokoma market. On spotting the police officers, people run in different directions. Mutura could not run fast enough and a police officer hit him on the head with a baton,” said the witness.

They say blood is thicker than water! When Njiru heard his brother scream, he returned to rescue him, only to run into an ambush of angry officers who clobbered him senselessly.

“The officers after panicking that they had killed Mutura, dragged him and his brother who was unconscious to the front seat of the police Land Cruiser. There were other arrested persons at the back who watched in horror as the officers strangled Njiru on the way as he was the only witness by then,” said the witness.

After dropping the people at the rear of the police vehicle at the station, this witness said the Land Cruiser left the station with the two brothers and it could be then that the bodies were dropped at Njukiri Forest.

An autopsy report released last Thursday indicated that Benson Njiru had multiple injuries on the head, the rib and limb with bruises while his young brother Emmanuel Mutura had head injuries believed to be from a blunt object.

Some witnesses have volunteered statements to the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) but are very skeptical of their security and unwilling to engage the media.

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has since called on the Witness Protection Agency to protect them. “Move with speed to ensure that witnesses are protected as per the law,” said Muturi after the boys’ family said crucial witnesses were reluctant to give evidence.

“About nine people witnessed the ordeal or have clues on what happened but are not willing to speak,” said a family member.

Accompanied by Runyenjes MP Eric Muchangi, Muturi urged the witnesses to record statements with the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA).

The Speaker took issue with the police for allegedly attempting to destroy evidence after they allowed the protestors to torch the vehicle that was used to transport the two. “The police never fired at the protestors when the vehicle was being set on fire. It seems, they brought it there to destroy evidence,” he said.

Yesterday, one witness who has already recorded a statement with the authorities said they were ready to help the family get justice. There was a hive of activity at the home yesterday as family and friends prepared for burial.

Embu brothers' last moments. [The Standard Checkpoint]

Their mother, Catherine Wanjira recalled how the boys left for their new shop at Mbui Njeru shopping centre to sell pork, a business they started with a cousin.

“I requested them to come home early and they agreed. ”It was their first day and as a family, we agreed to assist start-up a business before classes resumed in September. On that Sunday, Deputy President William Ruto was to visit the area,” she said amid sobs. Kianjokoma and neighbouring trading centres were to play host to many locals and she kept on calling the sons who had sold stock worth over Sh10,000.

After arriving home from church at around 4.00 pm, Wawira said she was in constant communication with the boys, and they were jovial as the business was booming. “The pork had cost Sh15,000 and they had carried part of it while the rest was still in the freezer,” she said.

“By 8.00pm, they were back to Kianjokoma but excused to respond to a friend in the market promising to return in 20 minutes,” said the mother.

After 20 minutes, Wawira called Emmanuel and he responded: “Mum, we are coming in a few minutes.”

She said their two phones went off at around 10.00pm and when retiring to bed at midnight, they left the gate open as they lived in the same house.

They reported the disappearance at Manyatta Police Station on Monday morning thinking the two were in custody since policemen in a Land Cruiser had been spotted patrolling the previous night.

Wawira said the station commander informed them the boys were not among the suspects taken to Embu Law Courts.

“We went back to Kithangari Police Post about 100metres from our home and officers advised us to get their phone numbers for tracking,” Wawira said.

Wawira said they left for Runyenjes Police Station in Embu East sub-county, where officers told them they only book lost persons after 24 hours.

“We searched at Embu and Itabua police stations in Embu West sub counties without success. We had not informed our relatives yet and we also called a friend at Mbuvori in Embu North to find out if they had gone there,” she added.

On Tuesday, the family provided the brother’s phone numbers for tracking at the Runyenjes Police Station.

“I was mad when one of the senior officers, ridiculed me not to cry for boys having fun elsewhere,” said Wawira.

The voice of Manyatta DCI boss keeps lingering in her memory with hopes that the message on the death of her two sons is not true.

She quoted the DCI boss saying: “What’s up with this Manyatta Police Station issue. The officers should have told you there was an accident.”

She said the DCI referred them to the Manyatta Police Station again, where the OCS now informed them that two suspects had jumped out of the speeding police Land Cruiser.

She recalled life with her two boys: “Njiru was my right-hand son as he used to take care of our tea and coffee farm while Mutura would do the cooking. Njiru had completed a certificate course and was to start a Diploma in Solar Engineering in January while Mutura was an undergraduate Law student at Kabarak University scheduled to open for second year in September,” she said.

“The boys are gone and even if I was to get other children, they cannot be like them and can only plead with the government not to let any other woman undergo such suffering and let justice prevail,” she said amid sobs.