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Samuel Wanjiru: 11-year puzzle and a mother's tears


Samuel Wanjiru's wife Triza Njeri (L), the marathoner's mother Hannah Wanjiru, and Jane Nduta. [Courtesy]


The sitting room's floor is cold. On one of the walls, the clock hands are stuck at quarter to ten. Frozen too is the smile on the image of a man whose pictures adorn the lounge. The hostess, 60-year old Hannah Wajiru Kamau, too is frozen in time.  

"Isn't there justice in Kenya? Do we have laws? How can a mother wait 11 years to know why her son died?" she wonders. Hannah lives in Muthaiga estate, in Nyahururu, 200 metres from the house her son died in.

For 11 years, Hannah has never understood why her son, the famed world marathoner, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru, died on May 15, 2011.

On the fateful day at around midnight, Kamau, at the apex of his athletics career, was declared dead after his body was collected from his compound in Nyahururu's Muthaiga estate. Investigators believed that he had jumped to his death. Pathologists described the injuries on his body inconsistent with a fall from the balcony.

One of the pathologists, Moses Njue testified that “for the height to have a significant effect, it should be three or four times the height of the person. Generally, it should be more than 30 feet,” he said.

Moments before his death, Kamau had an altercation with his wife, Triza Njeri, after she allegedly found him with another woman in their matrimonial bed.

Some of the evidence adduced before an inquest suggested that he had allegedly jumped from the balcony after Njeri locked him in the bedroom and ran off. 

Hannah, however, insisted that her son had been killed and that there were six men in Kamau's compound on the night his body was collected. The inquest has not yet concluded its hearings and so the circumstances surrounding the marathoner's death have not been established.

Away from the inquest, the mother has been fighting another battle to trace some her son's property. She has a photocopy of a 99-year lease certificate bearing her name and that of her late son as joint owners. It is dated  May 16, 2009.

"The house is registered in my name and my son. I have tried to check its status but the lands office in Nyahururu has blocked me." she said.

She lodged a complaint with the Office of the Administration of Justice (Ombudsman) who in turn wrote to the District Land Registrar Nyandurua on April 6, this year.

The Ombudsman told the District Land Registrar to assist Hannah execute the search but  the registrar's response was: "I will not give out the records without the production of the original ID card of the applicant."

Ndegwa Wahome, lawyer who once represented Kamau but now acts for his widow, Njeri, said that the house where the marathoner was living before he died has been rented out.

"It is true the property is registered in Kamau's and his mother's names. He bought the house when he was working in Japan and had not married then. Njeri was granted the power to administer the estate in 2018. I processed the lease for the Nyahururu house," Wahome said.

It has been 11 years since Kamau died in his house, whose ownership, just like other pieces of property is disputed.