For Pastor Charles Nyachwara, nothing could stand in the way of a name and reputation he had carefully molded within the community he served and preached to every Sunday and other days in between. When push came to shove, no sin was big enough for him.
Not even the sixth commandment-which says ''do not kill''. And on July 7, 2011, he says, he broke this commandment by stabbing his lover several times before fleeing from the crime scene. Nyachwara, a self-confessed killer, was willing to go to any lengths to keep his name on the pedestal on which the church and his congregation had placed him.
Unknown to the congregants, the pedestal was a mere creation of their imagination. And the man to whom they had gone to for spiritual nourishment, had a dark secret- a clandestine, romantic relationship with 17-year-old Scholastica Mmbihi, a Sunday School teacher at his church.
Calculative and manipulative
No one knows when the pastor wooed the minor, but everyone knows when and how the relationship ended. Last week, a Kitale court laid bare the calculative and manipulative character of the man who had turned from pastor to defiler, to fugitive and now to convict.
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It was a cold day in July when Ms Mmbihi met what the judge has since described as a “most brutal” end. Heavily pregnant, she had visited the Kitale District Hospital for her antenatal clinic and was on her way back home when she met the pastor.
In an ironic twist of events, she found the pastor praying on her near Kibomet Africa Inland Church and, witnesses say, the two engaged in banter, the kind lovers have.
When they were done, Mmbihi turned to board a matatu before the pastor flushed out a knife and stabbed her several times from the back. She collapsed in a heap as the man ducked and hid in a maize plantation nearby.
The screams from the attack and moans of a dying teen attracted the attention of watchman who was guarding a homestead nearby. He rushed to the scene, flushed out the pastor from his hideout and handed him over to the police. At the time, the pastor was facing defilement charges against the 17-year-old but was out on bond.
The long road to justice began. A road that took investigators and those related to the deceased to Uganda and Tanzania before going full circle and ending up at the feet of Justice Hilary Chemitei at the Kitale High Court.
In 2012, Nyachwara who had been charged with the murder but was out on bond fled the country to Tanzania and later to Uganda where under a new identity and without the inconvenient truth of a murder hanging over him, he set up a new church in Mbale town.
Police in Uganda who were aware of an outstanding warrant of arrest for the man tipped off their Kenyan counterparts to arrest the pastor as he was planning his wedding.
Zacharia Ogechi, a kin to the cleric had deposited the title deeds for his land worth Sh1 million as surety for the release of the pastor.
Changed his citizenship
But as soon as the paperwork was done, Nyachwara executed the next step of his dubious plan; to become a fugitive from justice and over the next few months, he consistently failed to appear for court dates, prompting the then Judge Joseph Karanja to summon Ogechi to explain the whereabouts of the wanted pastor.
And for over five years Ogechi traversed Tanzania and Uganda where Nyachwara was believed to have fled to.
His tireless journey started in Mombasa in 2012 where he tracked the pastor with the help of the police.
However, the pastor got wind and escaped to Mwanza in Tanzania. “I visited several areas in Tanzania such as Mwanza, Panda and Silale looking for him but I did not succeed because he had moved to Uganda,” Ogechi told the Kitale court.
Ogechi’s search hit a dead end in Tanzania as he could not trace the pastor who relocated to Uganda after receiving information that he was being sought. In Uganda, the pastor settled in Mbale district and changed his citizenship before establishing a church.
Nyachwara was planning for his wedding with his Uganda fiancé when Ogechi discovered him and alerted police who stormed the church and arrested the pastor as well as his parents who were attending the event, marking the end of a seven-year pursuit.
But it was not his eventual arrest that brought the Kitale court to a collective silence. It was the sheer viciousness and brutality of the pastor’s actions that made the courtroom hold its breath.
“I wish to state that I killed her because her father was not prepared to withdraw defilement charges laid against me at Kitale Law Courts,” said the pastor who was dressed in a blue tie. He was composed. Perhaps an indication that he had come to terms with his actions. Perhaps an indication of just how remorseless he was over Mbihi’s killing.
To protect whatever name he thought he had, Nyachwara fatally stabbed the girl. Killing her and the triplets she was carrying.
On Thursday, Justice Chemitei imprisoned Nyachwara for the murder. The judge said evidence presented before the court had proven that the pastor who served at the Yuya Pentecostal Assemblies of God PAG is guilty of killing the minor to save his image.
“I have heard the litigation by both the prosecution and defense sides. What is evident is the fact that the minor suffered cruel death in your hands. You have a right of appeal,” Justice Chemitei said while delivering the judgment.
And when the ruling was delivered, a smiling Nyachwara gave a thumbs up to the court before being led away by orderlies. Unfazed by the 25-year-jail sentence he was slapped with.
The girl’s father, Paul Mmbihi who has waited for long for justice said he will not appeal the judgment despite it falling below his expectation.