Suspect tells court how land boundary dispute led to death of activist

Patrick Naweet who is accused of killing Elizabeth Ekaru at Kambi Garba in Isiolo in 2022 testifies in Meru High Court on April 29, 2024. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

A suspect implicated in the death of a human rights activist has told the court how a scuffle led to her death.

Patrick Naweet is accused of killing Elizabeth Ekaru at Kambi Garba in Isiolo County on January 3, 2022.

Naweet, who appeared before Meru High Court Presiding Judge Edward Murithi on Monday, gave a lengthy account of a land dispute with Ekaru that resulted in her death.

Principal Prosecutor Eric Masila has lined up 11 witnesses to prove the accusations against Naweet. 

Naweet said that on the day of the incident, he and Ekaru had attended a burial and also talked about the land boundary dispute.

“A week before, she had moved the boundary. I reported her to the chief. She demanded to know why I had reported her and insisted I should take her to the plot and show her where she had moved it (the boundary). She was angry,” Naweet told the court.

At the disputed land, the two had conflicting views on where the boundary fell and a heated exchange ensured, he narrated.

Hit with stone

“She slapped me. I had a baton which I used to hit her. She caught it and we struggled. I fell and she sat on me and hit me with a stone,” he said.

The suspect, who told the court he worked as a security guard at a hotel, said in the struggle the victim wrestled and pinned him on the ground.

“She hit me with a stone and was strangling me,” he said.

Late activist Elizabeth Ekaru. [File, Standard]

The accused said blood oozed from where she had hit him and in a desperate attempt to free himself he reached for a knife.

“I had a knife. I saw she was going to hurt me so I stabbed her in the thigh,” he told an attentive court.

Naweet said Ekaru reached for the knife and sustained a cut on her palm.

It was at that point, he told the court, that the injured and bleeding woman screamed for help and an angry mob attacked Naweet.

“People came and started to beat me. I ran,” said Naweet.

Naweet maintained he acted in self-defense and claimed Ekaru would not have died had the people rushed her to hospital, instead of concentrating on him.

“It was self-defense. I did not intend to kill her but they nearly killed me. It is God who saved my life. It was an accident. I would never have done it. I plead for leniency.”

He said the police took him to hospital. “After I was discharged, I learned from the police she had died. I was shocked.”

Justice Murithi directed that closing oral submissions be made on June 20.

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