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Officer who rose to fame during Westgate mall attack now faces murder charges

By Nzioka Justin | April 26th 2020

Chief Inspector Lelei Stephen was in the front line battling the terrorists who had invaded West Gate Mall on September 21, 2013.

His bravery in facing the attackers in an attack that left 67 dead saw him rise to fame, to the point of getting presidential recognition.

Being among the armed respondents, Lelei took charge to act as a commander being the only senior person around. He led the other officers in confronting the Al Shabaab militants.

He survived a gunshot on his right leg, but still pressed on until other officers arrived at the scene. His act of bravery saw him rise above ranks to become an Area Police Commander and posted to Mlolongo.

It is at Mlolongo where Lelei restored sanity by doing away with highway transit robbers, killers, prostitutes, as well as illicit brew sellers.

All was well with Lelei until his troubles begun in 2015. Lelei was arraigned in court after a mother to a raped girl reported that a bedsheet, a piece of evidence for her daughter's rape case, was reportedly an office curtain at Soweto Police Station where he was in charge.

It was also during his leadership at Syokimau Police Station when lawyer Willie Kimani, cub driver Joseph Muiruri, and client Josephat Mwenda got killed and their corpses dumped in Athi River at Ol Donyo Sabuk in Machakos County.

Ms. Sylvia Wanjiku, Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, and Leonard Mwangi, who then worked under Mr. Stephen Lelei, are accused of having murdered the three.

This led to Lelei being drawn into the case that has since seen three junior officers charged with murder. He, [Lelei] has, on several occasions, been summoned to testify what he knows about the killings.

A key witness Mr. Peter Ngugi who also confessed to aiding the three in undertaking the killings stated how the plan to murder the trio was well planned and how he met Fredrick Leliman via Stephen Lelei.

To add the salt on the wound, Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) recently recommended murder charges for both Mr. Stephen Lelei and Fredrick Leliman, in relation to the murder of another couple in May 2016.

The couple was reportedly murdered at Mlolongo just a month before Willie's murder. After the killing of the couple, police claimed that they were responding to robbery attacks.

The report by the involved officers contradicted with that of the relatives, who claimed that the duo was killed by Leliman alias "Maasai" following a misunderstanding.

The killing had nothing to do with any robbery activity. The relatives reported how they recorded a statement at Mlolongo Police Station but never received any action about the killings.

"Upon an independent review of Ipoa's findings, the officer of the Director of Public Prosecutions wrote to the authority, and gave the green light to charge the officers with murder," stated Ipoa Chairperson Ms. Anne Makori.

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