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‘Killed by death:’ Why postmortem results on public figures are hidden

City News

post mortem; fidel odinga; mutula; kajwang

You will never know what killed a high profile figure in Kenya, unless of course they die of old age. This is fast becoming the trend, with postmortem results on most public figures who die mysteriously remaining out of the public domain in Kenya.

Many deaths, most of which bore elements of foul play, have remained mysterious. Even as the cruel hand of death continues to pluck high standing politicians, clergy men and other luminaries in Kenya in a most bizarre style, nothing has been made public about what or who killed them.

As usual, these unexpected deaths throw the nation into a sudden state of mourning, with people spreading rumours about possible causes of the deaths.

The recent deaths of Fidel Odinga, Otieno Kajwang, Mutula Kilonzo, George Thuo and George Kapten have left many wondering what actually caused their deaths. Being public figures, Kenyans feels they need to be told what really happened.

Some of these fallen leaders, it is claimed, never showed any signs of ill-health, while others are said to have complained of what might be considered commonplace discomfort before meeting their deaths.

In most instances, they die under unclear circumstances - either in their sleep or while attempting to get medical assistance. Many Kenyans are still wondering whether the real cause Fidel Odinga’s death will be made public as promised. For sceptics, his demise will follow the same script that Kenyans are used to.

The people behind deaths of many other public figures who fell by the bullet like MPs Tony Ndilinge and Mugabe Were, Father John Anthony Kaiser and constitutional lawyer Dr Chrispin Odhiambo Mbai, have also eluded Kenyans. Even when it is all too clear that these people were shot and killed, nothing concrete ever seems to come to light. We look at some of these mysterious deaths in Kenya.

MP George Kapten The former Kwanza MP was a lawyer who fought for a new Constitution and good governance. He was serving a second term in Parliament in 1999 when he died mysteriously. There was suspicion he may have been poisoned. The family set up three parallel examinations to find out what killed him. The findings have never been made public. Senator Mutula Kilonzo The famous lawyer died at his Maanzoni Ranch on April 27, 2013. His body was found in bed with foam in the mouth. Samples were collected for analysis. The findings of the pathologists and detectives have never been made public. The mercurial Makueni senator had allegedly claimed his life was in danger, fuelling suspicions of foul play. His son, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, claimed on January 13 that his father was poisoned, and that samples sent for analysis in the UK had been tampered with in transit.

George Thuo The former Juja MP collapsed while having drinks in the company of his friends at Porkies Pub in Thika. Thuo died on November 17, 2013. Investigations showed he may have been poisoned. Six people have since been arraigned in court in connection with the death. What actually happened remains a mystery. Otieno Kajwang’ He died on November 19, 2014 at Mater Hospital, where he had been rushed after complaining of chest pains. The late Homa Bay senator died of a heart attack, postmortem results indicated. Pathologists also disclosed there was a previous scar on Kajwang’s heart. Siaya Senator James Orengo said the autopsy report was not conclusive, and that further investigations on the exact cause of his colleague’s death would be carried out. “The report released by the pathologists is not conclusive. We will conduct more examinations to find out the exact cause of the death and release the information in due course,” promised Orengo.

Fidel Odinga The son of former Prime Minister and Cord leader Raila Odinga died on January 4, 2015, in his Karen home. He had allegedly been partying with close friends the night before.

He was found unconscious in bed by his wife Lwam Getachew Bekele who immediately alerted Fidel’s parents. But it was already too late when Raila and his wife Ida arrived. The news of his death drew mixed reactions.

Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro, accompanied by forensic experts and pathologists, camped in the compound for hours searching for clues into Fidel’s death.

Bundalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba has promised that the cause of Fidel’s death will not be kept secret. Fr Kaiser

On August 23, 2000, Fr Kaiser was shot in the back of the head. His body was discovered the next morning under acacia trees near the Morendat junction along the Nakuru-Naivasha highway. He was carrying documents he intended to present to the Akiwumi Commission.

Local pathologists concluded that the priest had been killed. FBI experts called in to help unravel the mysterious death ruled out murder. They advanced the theory that the former Ngong’ Diocese priest committed suicide. The priest’s lawyer Mbuthi Gathenji, maintained his investigation pointed to a potential cover-up. According to Gathenji, Kaiser was assassinated by hitmen.

John Mbai University of Nairobi lecturer, John Mbai, was relaxing at his Nairobi home on September 14, 2003, when three men broke into his house and shot the lawyer in the head and chest.

At the time of his death, Dr Mbai was a delegate at the highly acrimonious Bomas of Kenya Constitutional Conference drafting a new constitution for the country.

He was chair of the committee deliberating on devolution, where tempers constantly flared up. Some politicians from both the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and the opposition claimed Mbai’s killing was a case of political assassination meant to derail the constitution review process.

Three suspects; Collins Ketore, a watchman at Mbai’s residence, Ramadhani Otieno and Moses Mbuthi, were arrested and charged with Mbai’s murder.Two weeks later, six policemen were arraigned in court accused of torturing the three suspects to extract confessions.

The court however, acquitted the policemen for lack of evidence. Three months later, the three suspects were set free by High Court judge Kalpana Rawal, now Deputy Chief Justice. The three had been in remand for 18 months.

Tony Ndilinge The late Tony Ndilinge was shot dead on August 2, 2001 in Githurai 44. The Kanu politician’s Mitsubishi Pajero was later recovered in Dandora where it had been abandoned by the supposed killers. He had Sh20,000 in his wallet, which was not stolen by the attackers, as well as some cheques. Leaders claimed his was a political assassination. A week earlier,

Ndilinge had allegedly told colleagues that some people were trailing him. Police advanced several theories, even claiming the MP was involved in a relationship with someone’s girlfriend.

Among people probed by police was a male friend of a woman the MP had dropped home shortly before his murder. Truck driver Joakim Kagema and Margaret Wambui Njoroge charged with the murder were acquitted for lack of evidence. The truth has never been known.

Mugabe Were Mugabe had just been elected MP for Embakasi Constituency in 2007 when he was shot dead outside his home on January 29, 2008. The killing stirred emotions with politicians terming it an assassination.

According to witnesses, Mugabe had just stopped at his gate after midnight, and was waiting in his car for the gate to be opened. Another vehicle reportedly pulled behind his and two men yanked the MP out of his car before shooting him in cold blood.

James Omondi alias Castro, Wycliffe Simiyu, Paul Omondi alias Papa and Mary Wamaitha were arrested in connection with the killing. The case was terminated two years later for lack of evidence.  

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