Nearly seven years after the heinous killings of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver in 2016, their families still struggle to heal from the painful loss of their loved ones.
Kimani, his client Josephat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, were abducted and killed in 2016 and three police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjohi and police informer Peter Ngugi were convicted for the killings.
Lady Justice Jessie Lessit found them guilty of the murders on July 22, 2022 and they were sentenced on Friday.
At his home in Rutara, Kikuyu Sub-county on Thursday, Kimani’s father Paul Kinuthia, 83, recalled his last moments with his last-born son who was his only hope out of poverty.
As the nation waited for the delivery of the judgement in the case that laid bare police killings and extrajudicial killings, Kinuthia hoped that Justice Lessit hands his son’s killers a harsh punishment to atone for the murder.
“I wish those people could be hanged so that their children and parents can also feel the pain we bear every day of our lives... That they would never see their children ever! Just like us,” said the emotional father.
“Our lives changed after his death. I was so pained when I heard the convicts asking to be forgiven and be given lenient sentence because they had families. Who do we go to get our son back? My son, that they killed?” Kinuthia asked.
“We struggled to educate him until he acquirds a university degree. We sold all the livestock we had to pay for his school fees. We were so excited he become a lawyer and started working. He had so many plans for us,” he said.
During the ruling of the murder case on July 22, 2022, the convicts pleaded for leniency in the sentencing.
“I was so pissed off to hear them confess that they killed my son but they wanted forgiveness. They wanted a lenient jail term arguing that they had families. Didn’t Kimani have a family? Who is looking after his children after they killed him?” he wondered.
Kimani’s firstborn son was left when he was six months old.
“On the day of his disappearance, he knocked at my window and asked me if I had medicine. I have arthritis and he was to buy me more medicine after work and that was the last time I ever heard from him and it pains me so much,” he said.
Although the painful struggle of the long wait for justice must have been eased after the sentencing, a mention of the son, a media story on the case or a portrait that hangs in his house, will always be a constant reminder the murder of the Kimani.
“The sentence may not bring him back but I’ll die knowing that justice has been served. I didn’t know I would survive all these years. I thought I would die before seeing this day when my son gets justice,” said the father.
He described his son as a hardworking and bright man who always stood for justice and fought for the rights of the oppressed. He said his son’s star had just started shining.
Even on the fateful day, Kimani was heading to Mavoko Law Courts in Machakos where he was following on his client’s case who had been shot by police.
Not far from Kimani parent’s home, Muiruri’s sister Stellagrace Wanjira still mourns her youngest brother.
Muiruri had been hired to ferry Kimani and his client to the court in Machakos.
“I have lost other siblings and my parents died too, their deaths don’t hurt me as much as that of Muiruri. It hurts so much because he was helpless at the time if his painful death,” she said.
“I wish the killers could suffer the same pain we have felt since those men were killed. Every time I see them in court, I feel so bitter but now I know I’ll never have to face them,” Wanjira said.
Even with end of the case, Wanjira said the pain of losing his brother and the gap Muiruri left in the family would always be felt.
The long journey in pursuit of justice has not been easy for Wanjira and her family, she said, adding that at some point, she almost gave up and contemplated committing suicide.
The sentencing, she said, would grant her family some closure, noting that they had lived in fear since the matter commenced in court owing to its sensitivity.
“We always feared that we could be threatened. We had to be very cautious of our surroundings and the people we spoke to but this final step brings that to an end,” said Wanjira.
She added: “We have never cemented his grave site because we thought the investigators could exhume the body for more evidence. But now we have started the plans to cement it and hold a memorial service,” said Wanjira.
Just like lawyer Kimani’s father, Muiruri’s 40-year-old sister expressed her disgust at the convicts last-minute appeal for forgiveness after conviction.