When reports of the brutal murder of their last born son Moses Kinyanjui Wanyoike broke out, James Kamau Njenga and Jane Wanjiku were part of the search party for his body in Lake Naivasha. That day police officers teargassed them and made it impossible for the search party to retrieve the body.
That was in July 2014.
But determined to see their son dead or alive, they joined protests planned in Naivasha by residents over the frustrations they were facing at the hands of the police officers who were the main suspect in the killing and were trying to make it hard for the body to be retrieved.
The long search for justice for Wanyoike came to an end six years later on February 22, 2021, when a Naivasha High court found Police Constable Evans Maliecha guilty of the murder. He remains remanded at Naivasha Maximum prison and will be sentenced on April 8. Wanyoike was 25 years old at the time of his death.
The parents recounted the frustration that endured at the hands of the police and people perceived to be connected to the suspect. They faced threats and intimidation to withdraw the case.
At one point, Njenga said, when he went to follow up the case at Naivasha police station, senior officers refused to give him the Occurrence Book (OB) number and establish a file.
“Some people wanted the case to disappear and the officer not held to account for shooting my son to death,” he said.
They said that they had written off any prospect of getting justice. Holding the police officers to account was a tall order, they said. A glimmer of hope shone lobby group, International Justice Misson came to their rescue and ensured that the case remained active and every investigative detail covered.
“Senior officers at the police station tried to frustrate this case, even refused to give us an OB. They teargassed us when we went searching for the body at Lake Naivasha. We also faced numerous threats from them and strangers,” Wanjiku, Wanyoike’s mother said.
“My son’s young wife took off as soon as he got killed. She got married elsewhere. In his killing, we lost all things about him,” Njenga said.
Judge Richard Mwongo dismissed the argument by the officer that he had acted in self-defence, asserting that his actions had criminal intent.
“Given all the foregoing circumstances and my findings, I find and hold that the accused acted with mens rea (criminal intent), recklessly and in violation of the law,” the judge said in his judgment.
Wanyoike’s parents hailed the conviction of the officer saying that he deserved the conviction after all they had been through.
“After all the frustration that I have been through with my family looking for an answer for my son’s blood, I feel satisfied with the ruling,” Njenga said.
His mother wants the officer jailed for life “to pay for taking away the life of the young boy.”
“If it were in my power, this officer and all involved should be jailed for life. Just as he took life from my son, he should also be deprived of his,” Wanjiku said.
On the day of his killing, Wanyoike alongside his friends Johnson Ndichu and Douglas Tutu went fishing at Crescent Island in Lake Naivasha. A day before, the island had reported that one of their ship valued at Sh10,000 had been stolen.
Officer Maliecha alongside others from the Anti-stock theft unit raided the island on a fateful day and shot Wanyoike, arresting the two as suspects. He helped to charge the two with theft of the ship but were later acquitted.
The judge found this act of trying to prosecute the two as part of the scheme to conceal the killing and frustrate the murder charge.
“His actions were made all the more unacceptable by the fact that he did not report the incident but instead chose to assist in prosecuting the fishermen. His actions do not add up and do not support the defence of self-defence. Ultimately I find the accused guilty of murder and convict him for the same,” Judge Mwongo declared.