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Inside Mutula’s lonely, painless demise at his beloved ranch

By Nzau Musau | September 20th 2020

Relatives carry the casket of Senator Mutula Kilonzo during the funeral service in 2014. [File, Standard]

A foreign pellet drug prescription of uneven weight that befuddled local doctors, a half drunk can of drink he was never known to consume, and a stiff dead senator soaked in foam and blood in the middle of an expansive ranch.

This sums up the mystery of the death of former Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo whose inquest drew to a close on Tuesday this week, seven years after his sudden death on the morning of April 26, 2013.

Inquest proceedings obtained by the Sunday Standard now show that the stocky but gaudy man given to crystal clear ambition and bold speech literally drove himself to a lonesome death in a ranch he loved, and on the hour he had appointed to take his breakfast.

From a village boy who used to strut and fret his boyhood in scenic Utangwa village in Mbooni, bare-chested and raring for a fight, to top notch lawyer who conquered the city, an MP, Cabinet minister and senator, Mutula had come a long way in life.

But for all his life’s exploits – first East African to score a First Class degree, president of Law Society of Kenya (LSK), former President Daniel arap Moi’s personal lawyer – ended in a froth that was still bubbling long after he had shuffled his mortal coil.

Enjoyed good health

He had enjoyed good health practically all through his life, with his personal physician, Dr Luke Musau, telling the inquest that he did not have any known complication except a 2001 chest infection.

“I personally treated him for tuberculosis. The TB cleared. He was treated for a period of six months. As far as I am concerned I can say Mutula Kilonzo had good health,” Dr Musau, who had looked after him for the last 20 years of his life, testified.

His wife Cyrose Nduku also testified that except for a cold he was experiencing, he was not suffering any disease at the time he bid her bye at around 3:30am on the morning he left his Nairobi home for good.

He was using lozenges to manage the cold, and the wife was familiar with them. From the testimony of both his son Mutula Kilonzo Junior and Nduku, the late senator was conscious of his health and diet.

Both testified that he never took any carbonated drinks and was a gym enthusiast.

“He never used any Pepsi at any given time,” Nduku testified, while Junior was more emphatic: “The deceased never consumed carbonated drinks.”

Yet that is precisely what Junior was confronted with when he walked onto his dead father over the lunch hour of April 27, 2013; an empty Pepsi can which had his DNA.

The night before, he had driven himself to the ranch located along Nairobi-Mombasa road near Makutano Junction. He had dismissed his bodyguard, who was now in Mombasa, as well as his driver.

Yet a night before leaving for Machakos, he had protested to Nduku that his his life was in danger, while rejecting an offer to fumigate his home.

“When I asked him if it was the old threat, he told me that ‘what you do not know will not hurt you’ and did not want to discuss it at all,” Nduku told the inquest.

Mutula loved to retreat to the ranch on Friday, to cool off after a week-long of battling in the city. Here, he would regale in the basics, feed his lions, poke his cheetahs, observe the buffaloes, admire the ostriches, listen to the birds, check on his beehives and marvel at the tortoises.

Former Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

When he crossed through the remote-controlled gates of the Kwa Kyelu ranch, he dropped the officialdom, sent out for meat at the nearby Junction butchery, and inspected the ranch as he waited on his supper of Githeri, vegetables and meat.

“I was called by Kelly Mutua who was a cook at the ranch and asked to go buy 1kg meat from the market. This meat was to be consumed by Mutula Kilonzo. I bought the meat at Muthetheni Butchery. I then sent Robert Muia to take it to the ranch,” testified Shadrack Kitavi.

Mutula had his supper alone, according to his ranch employees, and called them to clear the tables as was the norm. On that evening, he called his wife, and texted his son Junior before he retired to bed.

What happened between then and 11am the following day when he was found dead is the mystery the inquest was unable to solve. On the fateful morning, according to the inquest, ranch staffers waited on him longer than usual, and realised he had not even attended to his 9.30am breakfast appointment.

“When I arrived, everyone was waiting. We waited. I asked Mulwa where he was. He said he was wondering why he had slept that late. We beseeched Mulwa to go wake him,” John Nzioka, a mechanic at the ranch, told the inquest.

When they went to check on him, they found the door to his bedroom open and the senator dead. They called his son, Junior, who drove to the scene.

“When I got into the room the door was open and the key inside. The curtains round the room were open. I also saw a book on the small table and a Keringet half litre water bottle. I found his two phones on the side which were still charging,” Junior told the inquest.

Foam and blood

According to Dr Mwangi Watene, the first doctor to arrive at the scene, Mutula’s body lay partially covered, facing up and with significant foaming from the mouth, and blood oozing from both mouth and nose to the right side of the head so that it made the right earlobe and bedding underneath wet with blood.

“I was able to calculate the time of death… I concluded that the deceased died at around 9:50am… I checked around and can attest that I did not see any evidence of viagra in the home,” Dr Watene testified.

There was no sign of struggle or interference with the scene. But there was vomit at the entrance of the bathroom, vomit on a basin by the bed. In a testimony that slightly differs with Junior’s, Dr Watene said half a packet of Delmonte juice, empty Pepsi can and the Keringet water were in the room.

Junior, however, told the inquest that the juice and the can were brought into the room alongside remnants of the food, by the cook.

“After police arrived, they requested the cook to bring the food the deceased consumed the previous night from the kitchen. He brought in three hot pots. I was surprised that the food was still in the hot pots at 2pm. He brought half consumed Delmonte juice.

Dr Musau, on his part, though he arrived late, told the inquest that the Pepsi can was in a shelf in the bathroom.

It is when the police, doctors and witnesses were documenting the items in the room that they stumbled on small pellets inside a small plastic container, and whose combination with the Pepsi drink, doctors say formed a lethal dose enough to rupture his arteries and cause massive bleeding.

A postmortem would later show that Mutula was bleeding all over – internally and externally; in the liver, spleen, ears, testicles, brain, all over.

“It (brain) was absolutely red. She told me she had never seen such before. She said that this was absolutely unusual,” Junior told the inquest of what one of the pathologists told him.

The white pellets surprised everyone, including Junior, who said they had no prescription. Dr Musau, Mutula’s personal physician, said he did not know what they were.

Wandera Crispus Bidru, the Deputy Government Chemist, would later observe that the pellets were “not known in the local market, had uneven weight and contained ephedrine.”

Upon analysis, he found the pellets to be a decongestant, and a technical drug for it not to contain same weight.

“It is also used in conducting surgery. It is used as anesthesia. It’s also used by persons with low pressure to stimulate the heartbeat. The drug may be used as performance enhancer,” he testified.

The strange drug

Significant amounts of this drug were found in Mutula’s stomach wall lining, liver, kidney and chest cavity, leading to a conclusion that there had been an overdose of the same.

“This is a high concentration, which shows that there was an overdose. The overdose caused dizziness. In my findings the death was as a result of what was triggered by the drug. The drug is not available in local market. It is not clear where the deceased got the drug from or who prescribed the drug to the deceased,” said Dr Bidru.

Both he and Dr Musau, as well as the other doctors, concluded a combination of this drug and the caffeine in the Pepsi drink would most certainly have been lethal. But the family held that he was not a Pepsi man, hence the conundrum of his death.

“There was no poison save to the drugs. Ephedrine can increase blood pressure and it was associated to the cause of death. There was no other substance other than the ephedrine. There was bleeding all over the body,” Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor testified.

John Kimani Mungai, a forensic expert with the Government Chemist, said from the DNA analysis of the material found in the deceased’s home, he was alone at the time of death. The inquest also made reference to the allegedly tempered toxicology specimens that were sent to UK socialist, Dr Ian Cadler.

“There were allegations too that the samples taken for oncology were tempered, however, we never had Dr Cadler attending court to testify or any report on the alleged interference of the samples,” Senior Resident Magistrate B Bartoo concluded.

From the inquest report of the deputy government chemist, the man who spent his entire life battling people in court, faced his end like a true soldier. He never called for help, and died facing up, quietly.

“There was no sign that the deceased died a painful death. This is informed by the fact that the deceased had covered himself well and the facial expression,” wrote Bidru.

He simply faded away, alone, in a ranch he christened Valhala, the resting place of heroes.

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