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Questions linger over double Katani murders

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VINCENT ACHUKA

By VINCENT ACHUKA
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For more than a month, the gruesome murders of Ann Gatita and her daughter Purity Wanjiru, who were shot in Katani, Machakos, appeared to be a robbery gone wrong, only that they were not, according to investigations by the Saturday Nation.

It is alleged that Gatita, 60, was opening the gate for her daughter Wanjiru, 35, and her son-in-law, Mr Fredrick Mwangi, as they arrived home from work on October 27 when two gangsters riding on a motorbike struck.

She was shot on the head, and died on the spot, according to Mr Mwangi, who survived the attack.

The gunmen then turned to Wanjiru and shot her dead before a scuffle between one of them and Mr Mwangi ensued.

In the process, Mr Mwangi was shot in his hands, forcing him to rush to hospital for treatment. This is what is in the public domain.

What is not is that there was a third person in the vehicle that Mr Mwangi and Wanjiru were driving in on the night of the attack – Ms Roselyn Nyaga, who is Wanjiru’s younger sister and who was not shot during the incident.

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There were also three other people: Wanjiru’s maid and two children who were in the house and whose version of events contradicts what Mr Mwangi told the police.

To date, Gatita and Wanjiru have not been buried. Their bodies are lying at Chiromo Mortuary as a fight over burying them and the right to their property rages.

On one hand is Mr Mwangi, who insists he is the immediate next of kin and should therefore bury his wife Wanjiru at his rural home in Nyeri.

Gatita and Wanjiru’s family have, on the other hand, rejected this claim, saying that the two were not legally married.

The deadlock has forced Gatita’s husband, Mr Boniface Nyaga, to seek a court order to allow him to bury his wife and daughter.

The deadlock over the burial of the two victims offers a glimpse into why they were killed.

The plot to kill them may have been hatched months before, and there is a high likelihood it is linked to their growing alcohol distribution business whose network covered Mlolongo, Athi River and Kitengela.

General Service Unit (GSU) Constable Anthony Kilonzo was remanded for a further 21 days after he failed to take a plea for the murders two weeks ago at the High Court in Machakos.

During his initial presentation at a Nairobi court on October 31, Mr Kilonzo attempted to confess but was stopped midway and asked whether he understood the implications of his remarks.

“I recorded statements when I was at the hospital, and yesterday when I was arrested. I confessed that I was called by a friend to do the job of killing the lady,” said Mr Kilonzo before being cut short by the magistrate.

A few months before she was killed, Wanjiru went to her lawyers seeking to swear an affidavit that she was not married to Mr Mwangi.

Her lawyers told her that it was not necessary since there was no document or ceremony that made them husband and wife, despite the fact that they had two children together.

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After finishing college in 2005, Wanjiru was co-opted by her mother in running “Alice Wines and Spirits”, which was in its first year of operations.

Ms Evelyne Nyaga, Wanjiru’s sister, says this was a temporary arrangement as Wanjiru searched for employment.

“For some reason things did not go as planned but the business grew so much. And since our mother was growing old, she changed the business ownership documents to Purity’s name,” she says.

Apart from the shop, Gatita also changed the title to a half-acre piece of property in Katani and another piece of land in Embu to Wanjiru’s name.

It is on the Katani land that Gatita built a four-bedroom home after her business fortunes soared.

She settled in the house with her daughter-turned-business partner.

By 2012, the alcohol business had grown from a retail shop to a distributorship. And so they bought a pick-up.

But there was a problem – neither Gatita nor her daughter could drive. They also needed a driver to send on errands as the business continued to grow.

Mr Mwangi, who was at that time doing odd jobs within Kitengela, was hired as a driver.

With time, Mr Mwangi not only gained the trust of the two businesswomen but he also wormed his way into Wanjiru’s heart.

So trusted was Mr Mwangi that in 2013, just a year after being hired, he had risen to a supervisor of sorts for the business and was also sent to acquire a second vehicle for the business, which he registered in his name.

In 2016, after Wanjiru and Mr Mwangi got their firstborn, Gatita decided to stop participating in the day-to-day running of the business.

She transferred ownership to her daughter. Things started going wrong after Wanjiru bore their second child in 2017.

“Mr Mwangi started pressuring Wanjiru to transfer some of the properties to his name. He even pushed for the formalisation of their marriage but it did not happen,” says a family member.

We now know that on the fateful night, Gatita and her daughters left the business premises in Wanjiru’s pick-up, driven by Mr Mwangi.

Wanjiru was seated in the middle while Ms Nyaga was in the rear left seat.

According to Ms Evelyn Nyaga, they were accosted just after driving into the compound as Gatita closed the gate behind them.

Roselyn says she first heard a gunshot at the gate just as they pulled up on the driveway before she was pulled out of the vehicle by the first attacker.

It is still not clear why Roselyn was not shot but she claims that she rolled under the car immediately she was pulled out.

In his statement to the police, Mr Mwangi said he stopped the car when he heard the first shot and rushed towards the gate.

He pounced on the first gunman and tried to grab the gun.

The gunman called his accomplice who was inside the compound for help and Mr Mwangi was shot in the hand in the ensuing melee.

Why two men who had AK47s failed to kill an unarmed man who was causing trouble to them even after killing his two family members is a question we still do not have an answer to.

What we know is that Mr Mwangi’s relationship with his wife had deteriorated badly in the weeks leading up to the killings.

Athi River Sub-County police boss Samuel Mukuusi says that Mr Mwangi is still a person of interest.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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