The streets were dimly lit when the slain Kianjokoma brothers left a bar in Embu in the company of their two friends.
Benson Njiru Ndwiga, 22, and Emmanuel Mutura Ndwiga,19, met their death on August 1, last year while they were at Kianjokoma Trading Centre heading home together with their friends.
According to their two friends who witnessed the incident, they were running away from the police enforcing curfew when Emmanuel tripped and fell. Benson was arrested as he went back to rescue his brother.
The two friends, John Mugendi Njeru, 19, and Chris Dan Murimi, 20, separately, told the court that they met after 8 pm at Mwamuri bar.
“I was playing video games when Benson called me after they had closed the workstation where they regularly helped their parents,” Njeru testified.
“He wanted to talk so I directed him outside the PlayStation and we started walking around Kianjokoma. Then we agreed to stop at a bar, ” he continued.
Njeru said the brothers declined to take drinks saying they did not want to have a hangover the following day because they wanted to wake up early for work.
” We bought a jar of Keg, which I shared with ChrisDan,” Njeru said.
After a brief chat, Njeru said the brothers received a call from their mother. They informed her that they were on their way back home.
He said the brothers were jovial that night.
” It was around 9.17 pm when the mother called, we talked for a few more minutes and left at 10.01 pm,” Said ChrisDan.
It was a few minutes past 10 pm _ the government-imposed curfew time to contain Covid-19 _ when the four decided to leave the bar for home. The rain was drizzling leisurely outside.
Before they parted ways, a police Land Cruiser stopped ahead of them, and an officer jumped out of the vehicle armed with a big stick.
Narrating tearfully to a packed courtroom on February 9, 2022, the two friends recounted how events transpired and about their final conversations.
“ Benson said we should run after he saw someone standing outside the police car with a huge stick. But Emmanuel tripped and fell,” Njeru explained.
Njeru and ChrisDan were the first and second witnesses in the murder trial before High court judge Daniel Ogembo.
The two said they saw the man with a stick aggressively approaching them and run towards a dark street where he took cover.
On his part, Njeru said he run and hid in a ditch where he could peep to watch over his friends.
“ I saw Benson walk back towards Emmanuel and I heard him say in Swahili ‘achana na viatu hepa, (Leave the shoes and run),” Njeru further said.
The two testified that they then heard a loud sound.
” I saw Benson holding back he was not running so fast it was like he was calling on Emmanuel, I had to cool down for a bit before then I heard a loud bang..seemed like a donkey being whipped,” he told the court”, said ChrisDan.
Explaining the same incident, Njeru said, “I peeped to see what was happening, I saw the man with a big stick hit Benson before throwing him into the Land Cruiser.”
The six police officers facing trial are; Benson Mbuthia, Consolata Kariuki, Nicholas Cheruiyot, Martin Wanyama, Lilian Chemuna and James Mwaniki.
In their opening remarks, the prosecution told the court that they had enough evidence to prove the six officers had intended to murder the two and expose their cover-up scheme.
“Our case is that the murder of the two was premeditated, planned and executed jointly by the accused persons. We shall produce witnesses who will give the account of what transpired, present forensic evidence to connect all accused persons with the charge of murder,” lead prosecution counsel Tabitha Ouya told the court.
“We shall also demonstrate the role each played and prove the death was not an act of God or an accident but an intent by the accused persons,” said Ouya
“The deceased brothers were dedicated sons to their parents and would assist in pork business in Kianjakoma centre. They were young energetic best friends assisting each other, they had great aspiration, but they were killed by those who ought to have protected them ,” she told the court.
Njeru told the court that the two brothers were his best friends. He and Emmanuel attended the same school.
ChrisDan described the brothers as “humble and generous” best friends who were always “caring”.
The four friends had a strong bond and enjoyed play station videos together. They also reared dogs together.
The two friends also told the court how they frantically tried to trace the whereabouts of their friends after they learnt from their father that they never made it home that scary night.
They embarked on a mission to find out which station the Land cruiser belonged to, only to learn later that their friends were no more.
“I couldn’t believe it, so I went to ask my mom, she called their grandmother and found out it was true,” Njeru told the court.
In 2021, Missing Voices records 170 deaths caused by police.
The case will proceed on March 3.