If the hire-a-killer.com website, which claims to have professional killers and kidnappers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Kampala and Central Africa, is to be believed; you can be eliminated by an assassin at the click of a button.
With a commitment fee of Sh10,000, claims the website, an aggrieved party can send a human being six feet under by parting with between Sh1 million and Sh3.1 million, depending on the status of the victim targeted for elimination.
“We understand that by requesting services from hire-a-killer.com, you are taking a risk. That is why we have designed a system that allows for smooth and efficient transactions without the legal hassle. Transfers are made anonymously using Western Union, and communication with customers is carried out through emails, which are promptly deleted after being read through,” reads a post on the site.
Could it be fact or fiction? The Nairobian assigned a senior investigative reporter to masquerade as a jilted woman seeking an assassin to eliminate a love rival. But despite bombarding the website with desperate and urgent requests for two months, no reply was forthcoming.
Perhaps they smelled a rat, the website is not manned, or the whole thing is the creation of a sick joker. What is however, not in doubt is that this country is crawling with men who earn a living from murder and are in business because there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Kenyans itching to send someone off the face of the earth.
Take Winnie Uwambaye Colpits, a Rwandan woman who was engaged to Simon Peter, a Briton insurance executive. On the morning of April 2013, Winnie was in her apartment along Rhapta Road in Westlands when she received a call summoning her to an urgent official meeting in the city centre.
Winnie, 42 years old and pregnant with a wedding coming up in a couple of months, quickly dressed up and passed through her salon on the way to the city centre, before speeding to the rendezvous at a lodging (name withheld) along Duruma Road.
It was a trap.
The decomposing body of the seven and a half months pregnant woman was discovered two days later in room 24 on the second floor of the building by workers whose suspicions were raised by the foul smell emanating from the room. Central Police Station detectives rushed to the scene and moved the body, marked as ‘unknown female adult,’ to City Mortuary. Winnie had been strangulated to death.
Meanwhile, Simon, with the help of police, was frantically searching for his fiancée. But as the clock ticked with no sign of success, the distraught Briton enlisted the services of private eye Joel Musonye, the head of Almond Private Investigators.
After two weeks of combing for clues, Musonye and his team stumbled on Winnie’s body at the morgue. The search for the killers kicked off after Simon positively identified the body.
The mastermind was traced to Kampala, Uganda, after a man who became a critical link to the people involved in the murder later suspected to be triggered by a love triangle or ethnic hatred, was found with Winnie’s missing phone.
The key suspect would later name six accomplices who included a Rwandan woman. The body of Winnie and her unborn child were flown to Rwanda, where they were buried as the seven suspects faced murder charges. The case is pending at a Nairobi High Court.
Inspector Musonye, a former OCS, says Winnie’s murder illustrates how easy it is to hire an amateur killer or a professional assassin.
“Kenyans would be shocked by the people involved in these things. But yes, we have hitmen around,” said Musonye without delving into details.
This might sound like the sort of thing you watch in movies, until you find yourself staring down the cold, chilling barrel of a gun held by a stranger for whom murder, to quote mafia Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather), is nothing personal - just business. And that is if you are lucky because most times, you never even know what hit you.
Steve Muthoka, a businessman-cum-politician was at his M-Pesa shop in Buruburu estate, Nairobi last Boxing Day when three gunmen walked through the door and felled him in a hail of bullets as his wife and a shop attendant watched.
They left as quickly as they came, with an envelope Muthoka had been carrying. Neither the family nor police know why the killers were interested in that envelope. Investigations later revealed that the hitmen trailed him to the shop and laid the ambush at around 8.40pm.
Muthoka had expressed interest in the Mavoko parliamentary seat and although police insist it was just a robbery case, close allies led by Wavinya Ndeti, the Chama Cha Uzalendo(CCU) boss, think Muthoka, who was laid to rest on January 3 at Tulimani village in Athi River, was assassinated.
“I don’t think it was the work of hitmen. We are treating the incident as a robbery, even though we still don’t understand why they were only interested in the envelope whose contents we don’t know,” stated Buru Buru OCPD Geoffrey Mayiek revealed.
People are however not unnecessarily killed by the bullet. Tragic traffic accidents and explosions are cleverly staged and some victims poisoned for reasons ranging from deals gone sour, business rivalry, relationships and love triangles, wealth, evidence concealing, politics, religion and even career battles at the office.
But Ndegwa Muhoro, the head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), said assassinations are neither a new nor serious phenomenon. He noted that it is highly doubtful that armed hitmen were roaming the country looking for vulnerable targets.
The top detective said his officers were more worried about the ever-rising incidents of relatives or friends killing each other in fits of rage.
Muhoro however said they have been able to stop a few premeditated murders bordering on love triangles and domestic differences and arrested the masterminds.
“Hitmen should not cause alarm,” the top detective assured this writer.