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Three years on, missing security expert's family holds onto hope

National
 Security expert Mwenda Mbijjiwe. He disappeared on his way from Nairobi his Meru rural home on June 12, 2021. [File, Standard]

Jane Gatwiri, the mother of security expert Mwenda Mbijjiwe who has been missing since June 12, 2021, cuts a forlorn figure at her home at Sirimon in Buuri sub-county, Meru.

She has worn a haunted expression on her face for the three years Mr Mbijjiwe, her firstborn, went missing in unclear circumstances as he travelled from Nairobi to visit her.

The pain of not knowing whether her son is dead or alive, and where he might be if he is still breathing, has been too much for her and she is no longer the ever-smiling woman locals knew.

Ms Gatwiri has been to countless government offices in the long search for Mbijjiwe, including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters and the presidency but she has not found any help, yet.

Frustrated by the government’s failure to produce her son, dead or alive, Gatwiri turned her attention to the international community and civil rights organisations to compel the government to reveal the whereabouts of Mbijjiwe, a security analyst who also has authored several books, including the acclaimed America Fear No Evil about terrorism.

Gatwiri said she has new details that her son is alive and has issued yet another appeal to the state to produce Mbijjiwe, who was 43 when he disappeared as the family believes he is being held somewhere, for reasons she does not know.

The car he was driving was found dumped in Kiambu.

“Like I have been saying from the beginning, I know my son is alive. He was kidnapped during the government of the former regime,” Gatwiri said.

Though she does not know their nature, Gatwiri alleged her son was accused of committing some crime and his file was with the DCI, during the reign of its former director George Kinoti, who incidentally hails from Mbijjiwe’s Buuri sub-county.

Gatwiri claimed her son faced some accusations but after investigations, he was found innocent of the claims levelled against him, so he wants the government to produce him, again, alive or dead.

She said she wants an end to the painful wait which has seen her and her family exhaust resources on the unending trips to Nairobi to look for him.

“The accusations against him were investigated and he was found innocent. He was in the security sector so I would not like to delve into the issue too much, for obvious reasons. But my prayer is to President William Ruto to direct that Mwenda’s file be produced and handed to him. My son was innocent but his enemies wanted to harm him,” she said, without elaborating.

Mbijjiwe’s father, Stephen Nkonge, pleaded with the president to allay the family’s fears and bring their agony to an end by ordering Mbijjiwe's release.

Mr Nkonge said they had been to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s office before, after the DP pledged to assist the family during the 2022 campaigns.

He said only the presidency can intervene now. “We have tried so many times to get him back,” he said.

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