By Wahome Thuku
What is in a name? That is an adage whose answer has never been agreed upon. But from this case, a name could mean a difference between life and death.
On the night of January 31 and February 1, 2004, a gang raided several homes in Runyenjes township of Embu District. They were armed with pangas and other weapons.
Mr Joel Njiru Manyuari was killed during the robbery in his house. But police never properly investigated the incidents until July 16, 2004, when one suspect, Patrick Njiru Njue, was arrested at Manyata village.
Shortly after, he was charged with violent robbery before Chief Principal Magistrate in Embu. The charge sheet stated that on February 1, 2004, with others not before the court, he robbed Justa Wanja Nthiga Sh20,000 and immediately before or after the robbery killed Joel Njiru Manyuari. Ms Wanja was Manyuari’s wife.
Four witnesses testified. Wanja narrated how on the fateful night, she and her husband and children were asleep in their one-roomed house when at around 3am, they were woken up by people calling from outside. Their door was hit with a huge stone and it gave way. Four men entered the house and demanded money from her husband. She gave them Sh20,000 but they asked for more. Wanja said she identified one man whom she had only known physically but did not know his name. That man was Patrick Njiru. She was able to identify him from the light of torches the gangsters were having. She said the robbery took about 10 minutes.
Wanja told the magistrate that she knew the man because he had, in a different incident, stabbed her husband with a knife and disappeared from the area. Her husband had also told her he was having disagreements with the man over some money.
She told the court that after taking the money the men then dragged her husband outside and locked her in the house. She said she heard her husband say to the gangsters, “Njiru why are you killing me?”
When the door was opened by a man identified as Musee, she found her husband groaning outside having been injured. He died soon after.
Wanja went to a nearby police station the same night and recorded a statement. She told police that she had identified Njiru as one of the gangsters. She did not tell Musee that she had identified Njiru.
According to Dr Alex Ombati, a pathologist, Manyuari had died of severe bleeding from multiple deep cuts. A police officer told the court that the report had been made by Wanja and that he did not investigate the case.