Shattered light bulbs, smashed sockets and electricity meters, charred wood, burnt household items and the choking smell of burnt plastic welcome you into the residence comprising 80 houses in Kawangware 56, Nairobi.
It is here where a tenant in his 20s was murdered on Monday night.
Warren Jirongo, who worked as a garbage collector, was on Tuesday morning found lying on a couch in his single-room iron sheet house, covered with a bed sheet and facing the ceiling. He had injuries on his bloodied face and dried blood covered his lips.
“It seemed like he had been hit on the back of the head. He was bleeding and when we tried to lift him, blood oozed from the mouth,” said a resident who only identified himself as Alex.
The houses are owned by John Ng’ang’a, a young man who inherited the structures from his parents alongside his siblings. Neighbours said Ng’ang’a and Jirongo had two altercations prior to the latter’s death. Police said Ng’ang’a was still at large. Neighbours said the two got into an altercation on the road on Saturday evening after a drinking spree, but locals quickly intervened.
They said the two got into a heated argument again on Monday night at the residence, which quickly turned physical.
John Adeya, who runs a shop at a building adjoining Jirongo’s house, said he heard noise at around midnight on Monday.
“I heard some noise as I closed the shop. I heard someone say that a token meter had been stolen. When I came back the next day, I heard that Jirongo was dead,” said Adeya.
While many residents at the plot had moved out by the time The Standard visited, neighbours, speaking in hushed tones and unwilling to go on record, said they had seen Jirongo and Ng’ang’a fighting at the residence on Monday night.
“I was told the disagreement was about rent arrears and that the suspect had sold the token meter installed in the house where he lived,” Pastor Wilson Thomas, the chairman of the areas Nyumba Kumi, said.
Some of the residents we spoke to confirmed that Jirongo had accumulated rent arrears for three months. The monthly rent for the house was Sh3,000.
A close relative of Ng’ang’a said the two often argued over issues such as Jirongo’s late rent payment and his habit of jumping over the fence whenever he came back home late at night.
Neighbours said Ng’ang’a was particularly angry that night since he had locked Jirongo’s house over rent arrears, but Jirongo broke the padlock and got inside. Immediately Jirongo’s colleagues found out about the murder, neighbours who did not want to be named, told The Standard they came and warned the residents to move as they were planning to raze down the structures in a revenge attack.
By Wednesday morning, some residents were still occupying the structures when Jirongo’s colleagues at the garbage company descended on the houses, burning down nearly all of them including business establishments. They burned tyres and blocked roads in Kawangware 56. Firefighters arrived, but had trouble putting out the fire due to poor road access in the slum estate. The police stopped the protests in the morning.
Residents said they were still in shock since both Jirongo and Ng’ang’a were neither confrontational nor aggressive people.
Police are still hunting for Ng’ang’a.