I wrote years ago about lessons gleaned as a reporter interviewing mortuary staff. Those lessons come to mind given what is happening around us. They confirm that even the best planned murder has a way of leaving traces and tracks.
Mzee Josphat Gichini Ngugi served as Superintendent of the Nairobi City Mortuary for decades. Following the murder of former Permanent Secretary Alexander Sawe in 1998 in a fire incident, he was the one who received the body. Though reported as a fire incident, Gichini and his staff noticed a wet spot oozing blood from Sawe’s charred body.
“A killer thinks by stabbing a person and burning the body they will have concealed evidence. What they do not know is that the punctured part from which blood oozes is the last to dry and remains a gaping hole unless the body is destroyed completely,’’ he told me. His observation put police on tracks of the killer wife who was later convicted of murder. Sawe was planning to get a second wife, and madam exerted the cruelest revenge.
On the body of a former student leader ‘killed’ by fire in his university, Gichini noted there was no soot in his nostrils, a pointer he could have long stopped breathing when the fire broke out. In autopsy cases, this process is used to rule out foul play.
In the era of digital gadgets capable of remote monitoring, such as phones and support tools like hidden cameras, murder and general crime investigations have been simplified. You hire a gunman, driven by your own fury, but are blinded to the digital era you live in. Next thing you see your hireling ‘fumbling’ on the TV screen.
Most often in cases of crime, the cellphone shows the communication web of the victim and supposed killer(s), as well as movement and interaction. There is a lot more we can reveal, but at the risk of tutoring would-be killers on how to clean their dirty tracks.The point we are making is the futility of the senseless killings we are witnessing. For now, Migori Governor Okoth Obado is fighting to cleanse himself of claims that on the basis of motive and opportunity alone, he is a ‘person of interest’ in the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.
Sharon boasted to friends she was carrying a ‘county baby’. She was lured to meet the Governor by his Personal Assistant Michael Oyamo, and alongside her was Nation journalist Barack Oduor. The journalist would then jump out of a moving car and that, with God’s protection, is why he is alive today. The pregnant lady was unlucky, she was stabbed, and the knife even got to the foetus. What is left is for the DNA technology to clear or make matters worse for Obado.
Garissa County Governor, Ali Korane is also faced with adverse claims following the attempted murder of former county executive officer Idris Muktar. The target survived the shooting captured on CCTV camera, and the shooter died mysteriously in police cells. Idris may soon wake up to face his would-be killer. Disagreement over some hefty payment to Idris forms the fulcrum of the crime. Truth or falsity of the claims is left to the court.
Let us assume the two governors are innocent victims of a murder set up to embarrass or topple them politically. What would forever ring through our ears is that in a way, we have ‘devolved’ political killings. The killing of Sharon and near-death of Muktar are direct by products of past fatal crimes edged by unholy alliances that have not been resolved.
The killing of Ainamoi MP David Kimutai in a love triangle in 2008 belongs to this category, but the most relevant is that of election’s IT expert Chris Msando last year. Whereas the motive of the killing was convincingly related to the 2017 elections, the fact that a young girl (in all likelihood collateral damage!) also went down was merely meant to give this a sense of ‘love triangle’. This effort backfired, but two innocent souls have gone. Then there is Robert Ouko’s, Alexander Muge’s George Morara’s, JM Kariuki’s, Mugabe Were’s and George Muchai’s as well as hundreds of political protestors over the years.
As the fight against corruption and land-grabbing progresses, Kenyans desire a deterrent lesson on political assassinations. To achieve this, the police must deploy the latest tools of technology and forensic science. That way, political murders will disappear from the menu of dealing with political rivalry and dissent.
Mr Tanui is Deputy Editorial Director and Managing Editor, The Standard.Ktanui@standardmedia.co.ke