Police were last night hunting for another “high profile” suspect in the Matungu killings as the State tightened its grip on Senator Cleophas Malala and former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, who are in custody.
Matungu MP Justus Murunga yesterday surrendered to the police before the six-hour deadline, as villagers in Sayangwe, Matungu, buried a mother and her daughter, two more victims of the killings.
Western Police Commandant Rashid Yakub said Mr Malala, Mr Echesa and Mayoni Ward MCA Libinus Oduor will remain in custody until Monday when they will be arraigned in court.
Mr Yakub said the police were hunting for another suspect linked to the killings, as the whereabouts of the former CS remained unclear.
“So far we have been unable to locate Mr Echesa either physically or on phone. The police have refused to allow us,” former Senator Bonny Khalwale told the Sunday Standard on phone.
Left in a huff
Sleuths pounced on Echesa moments after he attended a function presided over by Deputy President William Ruto at Dr Khalwale’s Malinya home in Ikolomani sub-county. The former CS was among leaders who were given the chance to address a crowd at Dr Khalwale’s home.
But Mr Murunga left the event in a huff through back door after sensing danger, just before the DP arrived.
In Sayangwe, the family of Stephen Rapachi was in tears as they buried Petronila Mungayi, the 40-year-old pregnant woman who was hacked to death alongside her three-year-old daughter, as leaders called for justice.
The gang inflicted serious injuries on Mr Rapachi and another child during the attack on May 4.
He said he saw five spotlights flashing before the suspects broke into his house.
While he lay unconscious, the gang descended on his wife and children. He would not know of the fate that befell his wife until after a week when he regained consciousness at Matungu Sub-county hospital.
“I was surprised and didn’t believe when they told me that Peri and my child had died,” said Rapachi who now has to tend to the other two children who survived the attack.
The burial was attended by leaders who condemned the killings that have shocked the country.
The sub-county has reported more than 20 deaths connected to the gang killings for the past two months.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who joined the mourners said he was working with the national government to restore security in the county.
Mr Oparanya accused the police of being reluctant to arrest criminals in the area.
The county boss demanded that the police curb illicit brew and drugs in the region and illicit alcohol smuggled in from neighboring Uganda.
“The investigators should arrest the culprits and charge them but not use this to harass innocent Kenyans,” Oparanya said.
The county government took care of the burial expenses and is paying hospital bills for Rapachi.
Some leaders cursed the assailants and demanded that the national government arrests them immediately.
“We curse those who carried out this act and may they perish immediately we leave this place,” said nominated Senator Naomi Shionga.
Butere MP Tindi Mwale urged residents to remain calm but warned the perpetrators of killings of dire consequences.
Kakamega Woman Rep Elsie Muhanda said she will sponsor the counseling of the victims of the attacks.
Meanwhile, Malala’s family said he is innocent as Echesa whereabouts remained unknown to family, friends and relatives.
The Senator Malala’s family claimed that since his detention on Friday, he has not been given access to his doctors as well as lawyers and had not been given food or clean water.
His advocate, Charles Malala, told journalists that the senator is diabetic and is also suffering from high blood pressure but had not taken any medicine since he was arrested on Friday.
“The senator needs medication immediately and we are wondering why police officers have restricted his access,” said Mr Malala.
His parents however read malice in the arrests and claimed that their son was brought up with strong Christian principles and should not be associated with the killings.
“My son cannot associate himself with such acts and he is innocent. We have been here since he was arrested but they have still refused to release him on a police bond,” said the senator’s father David Malala.
Yesterday, Malala’s supporters were still hanging around the police station in Kisumu where he is being held with some hoping that he would be released and allowed to appear in court.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o and his deputy Mathews Owili visited the senator in custody yesterday and decried his treatment.
“Drugs that are always taken by diabetic patients must always be taken on time and on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that even his family had been denied the chance to access him,” said Prof Nyong’o.
[Harold Odhiambo, Brian Kisanji and Johnn Shilitsa]