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What really happened to the once No-nonsense City Girl Njoki Chege? Kenyans wonder

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“The weekly city girl column produced every Saturday has lost its lustre and relevance and is just like a church sermon…The previous city girl called it as it is. She was fearless, bold, not petty and worth reading… Old city girl never entertained nonsense, lame excuses and adult truancy. I don’t know if also the so called handshake is behind the City Girls shift? I hope to reclaim back city girl soon.” – Robert Musamali

This is an excerpt of an e-mail sent to me last week by a concerned fan. Let me start with a confession. Mr Musamali’s e-mail is not the first of its kind I have received in the recent past. I knew it was difficult to maintain a hard-hitting column, but I didn’t realise how tough it would be to manage change, more so among readers!

So today, I am going to bear out my heart on this page, and bring to your attention a new facet behind my “mellowing”.

When I started writing this column in July 2014, nobody, besides my friends and family, knew my name or even the fact that I was a writer. In the journalism world, I was practically a “nobody”, a mere byline that appeared at the start of the feature articles.

Enter the opportunity of City Girl column and suddenly I cannot introduce myself in public as “Njoki Chege”, preferring only to introduce myself as “Njoki”.

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CONTROVERSIES

Two years ago, I was having a long phone-call with an equally, if not more controversial former newspaper columnist and I asked him. “Sir, how do you deal with all the noise?” He laughed for thirty seconds straight and told me “Well, I don’t deal with as much noise as you do — but, I have learnt to ignore it. And you? How do you deal with it?” I didn’t have an answer.

You see, there is a hefty social price you pay when you are running a column such as this. The price is heavier when you are a young woman.

While I enjoyed every moment of stepping on toes and entertaining millions of readers, I was, on the other hand, paying a massive price for being “The Infamous Njoki Chege” as my frenemies like to address me.

I became the butt of many jokes — some sexist and most downright offensive. As my name trended nearly every single weekend on social media, I became a weekly punching bag and dreaded Mondays because of the barrage of hate mail from “fans”.

The swampy parts of the Internet had a jolly good time, tarnishing my name with all sorts of rumours, half-truths and fabrications.

RUFFLING FEATHERS

Then it dawned on me: When you are a young and confident woman who seems to have figured out your stuff, people will try to delegitimise you by attacking your morals.

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It happens in the media, it happens in every industry — and I know women reading this are nodding in agreement. Never once did I complain, nor am I complaining now.

But even as all this happened, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I was a male columnist? Would I be treated differently? There are tons of male columnists in this country who ruffle feathers — political or otherwise — but hardly do we get to see stuff written about their personal lives.

In fact, responses to their fiery columns are often well-thought-out fact-laden rebuttals, not a load of unprintable claptrap as was in my case.

I think part of the reason why this column became so popular was because I was a young woman who had the nerve to speak her mind so courageously.

READER’S SUPPORT

Many people, it seemed, did not so much as have a problem with what I was writing, but a problem with who was writing. I mean, how dare I, a young woman, be so independent minded? I am just musing here — I could be wrong, of course.

And now as I publicly announced a change in direction of this column, I find myself in a quagmire of sorts. My readers are the wind beneath my wings — I’d be nowhere without their support and love from them.

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But I stand my ground and reiterate that this column will not be what it used to be — for many reasons.

I appreciate the support and concern of the readers, but if there was a time I needed their support, that time is now.

I hope you embrace my change, but more important, you understand the old City Girl is not coming back. Ever.

-nairobinews.co.ke

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KDF officer arrested over murder of wife, children

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Three bodies believed to be of the estranged wife of a military officer and their two children who disappeared three weeks ago were Saturday evening found buried in a shallow grave at Thingithu Estate in Nanyuki.

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Military Police found the bodies after being led to the scene by the military man who is the main suspect in the suspected triple homicide. Major Peter Mwaura of Laikipia Airbase in Nanyuki was arrested on Thursday by military police and handed over to the DCI.

After more than 24 hours of grilling at Nanyuki Police Station and at his house inside the army barracks, the suspect led police to an abandoned cemetery in Thingithu Estate, barely a kilometre from the army base.

Still in a combat t-shirt, the army man led a team from the DCI and KDF officers to the spot the three bodies were buried.

After about 30 minutes of analysis and digging, police found three gunny bags in containing decomposing bodies which were tied up using plastic ropes inside the shallow grave.

All this time the suspect sat in the unmarked DCI vehicle, constantly trying to catch a glimpse of the discovery and hiding his face from cameras and the curious crowd.

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Laikipia County Criminal Investigations Officer Peter Muinde declined to confirm if the bodies found were of the missing woman and her two children.

“We still have to do some more forensic tests to identify the bodies. A source led us to the scene and we are working to confirm if the bodies are of the missing woman and the two children,” Mr Muinde said.

Joyce Syombua, 31, and her children Shanice Maua, 10 and Prince Michael, 5 were reported missing on October 27 after spending two days at Major Mwaura’s home. They had arrived at the Laikipia barracks on October 25.

Ms Farizana Syombua, a relative of the missing woman told the Nation that she texted her to enquire about their journey to Nanyuki and she replied that all was well.

In a text message, Syombua informed Ms Farizana that Mr Mwaura had taken the children for a walk within the military base.

Mr Mwaura claimed that he had left the children with a friend because he wanted to have a private conversation with his estranged wife.

He had initially told the police that Ms Syombua left for Nairobi with the children in a matatu. He claimed that he released his family back to the base after being called in to work urgently.

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He alleged that he took Syombua and the children to Nanyuki bus terminus where they boarded a 4NTE Sacco matatu to Nairobi.

The trio however never arrived at their home in Kayole, Nairobi, raising suspicion over their safety.

A report was initially made at Soweto and Nanyuki Police stations, prompting investigations into their disappearance of the three.

The discovery of her mobile phone inside a matatu would later open a can of worms into what is turning out to be a brutal triple homicide and a well calculated cover up.

Detectives would later discover that the matatu in which the phone was found never made a trip to Nairobi after all.

Officials from the sacco told police that the matatu had been hired for a private function in the Rift Valley on October 28 and did not make a trip to Nairobi as claimed by Major Mwaura.

A statement from a classified witness would later give the police the biggest lead. The witness told the police that the army officer had sent him to buy three gunny bags.

Major Mwaura was arrested on Thursday by Military Police before he was handed over to the DCI. The suspect will be arraigned on Monday.

nation.co.ke

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Taxi driver goes missing after call from client

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On October 30 at 5.30am, Peter Thanare left his home for Kitengela to meet a client who wanted to hire his vehicle to transport goats from Kajiado to Ruiru.The 34-year-old taxi operator in Ruiru was to proceed to Isinya later.

At around 12pm, his sister called his cellphone but the call was received by a man who said Mr Thanare had gone to buy petrol for the taxi.The family tried to reach the father of three on phone in vain before it was later switched off.

This is the last time that they saw or heard from Thanare. The man and his vehicle have been missing since.

Peter Njoroge, an uncle to the taxi operator said the family reported him missing at the Kitengela Police Station.The matter has also been taken over by the DCI Serious Crime Unit officers.

The family has visited police stations, hospitals and mortuaries in search of Thanare.Last week, they got information from the police that the body of a man had been retrieved from a river in Machakos County.

The description given by the police seemed to match that of Thanare but after visiting the mortuary, they realised that it was not their missing kin.

It has emerged that the cell phone the said client used to call Thanare did not have any call log history since it was purchased.This has made it difficult for the investigators to conduct any data analysis.

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The DCI investigators have also visited an M-pesa shop in Makutano, in Machakos where Thanare is said to have withdrawn some 8,000.The M-pesa attendant said the taxi operator was alone at the time.The withdrawal was done at around 5.30pm on the day the man went missing.

Every new day the family of Thanare sets out to search for him.Njoroge wonders why anyone would have wanted to hurt the man.“Before he went missing, there were no threats to his life,” he says.

The family has since made a public appeal for information on the missing man.The details have been posted on social media platforms including Facebook.

By Standard

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Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

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A military officer has been arrested following the disappearance of his estranged lover and two children.

Maj Peter Mugure, who is based at Nanyuki’s Laikipia Airbase, was arrested yesterday evening after spending the entire day at Nanyuki Police Station and recording three statements.

“We will take him to court on Monday and seek more time to detain him for further interrogations and investigations,” said Laikipia East Criminal Investigations Officer Jacob Muriithi.

Muriithi’s estranged lover Joyce Syombua, 31, and their two children Shanice (10) and Prince Michael (5) disappeared three weeks ago when they went to visit him in Nanyuki.Almost a month since the visit, Syombua’s mother Maua Malombe and the family are painstakingly still searching for her and the children.

It all started on Friday, October 25 when the three started their journey from Nairobi’s Kayole Estate where they lived.The visit was at the request of Mugure, Syombua’s partner of 13 years.

Mrs Malombe says the relationship between the two had been on and off.

“Peter requested that he needed to spend time with the children after schools closed. He sent Joyce fare and they were excited when they left for Nanyuki,” says Mrs Malombe.

Several hours later, Syombua texted her that they had arrived safely. She was also in communication with her childhood friend and namesake, Syombua Kateng’u, who she texted at 11pm.

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At 8am the following day, Syombua texted her friend again.

“In the text message she told me that when she came from the bathroom, she did not find Peter and the children.

She also told me when she called him, he said he was taking them on a tour of the facility and would be back,” Ms Kateng’u says.

After a few hours, Syombua texted Kateng’u that Mugure was back, but without the children.

“When she asked him the whereabouts of the children, he said he had left them at a friend’s house because they needed privacy to iron out their differences,” narrates Kateng’u.

Journey to the unknown

At 7pm, Kateng’u called Syombua who told her the children were yet to return and that Mugure had stepped out.

She called her again after some time but her phone was off. That was the last time the family and friends heard from Syombua and her children.

Kateng’u says the same night, she called Mugure – whose number she had been given by Syombua.

He informed her that he had escorted Joyce and her children to board a matatu back to Nairobi that night.But the three did not arrive back to their house in Kayole, throwing the family into panic.

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Mrs Malombe reported a case of missing relatives at Soweto Police Station that Sunday.

The matter was booked and was advised to make a follow-up report at Nanyuki Police Station where the disappearance occurred.

It was at Nanyuki where Malombe met Mugure who had also arrived to record a statement.

Ms Joyce Maua, 31, and her two children Shanice (10) and Prince Michael (5) who went missing on October 26, 2019 after visiting a senior military officer based at Laikipia Air Base. [Philip Muasya, Standard]

In his statement to the police, the military officer indicated that at around 6.30pm on October 26, he escorted Syombua and the children to the bus stage.

He said he left the three at the stage waiting for a matatu and went back to his workplace, therefore he did not know which vehicle they boarded.

When the Saturday Standard reached out to Mugure, he directed us to the police.

“Contact the right channels and you will obtain the information you need,” Mugure said on the phone.

An officer at Nanyuki Police Station, a Mr Kiptoo, who has been investigating the matter, said it was a complicated case that needed a lot of time and travelling.

“I have handed over the file to the DCIO Laikipia East because I realised it needs a lot of travelling and effort,” the officer said.

Muriithi said, “We have established they were not in good terms as a couple.”Hope that the family would be traced through telephone signals dwindled after a cellphone believed to belong to Syombua was on Wednesday found inside a matatu registered with 4NTE Sacco in Nanyuki town. An official of the sacco denied that their vehicle ferried the three to Nairobi.

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“We do not ferry clients at night, the vehicle in which the phone was found was on a private duty that day.”

The family is now appealing to DCI boss George Kinoti to take up the matter and unravel the mysterious disappearance of the three.

By Standard

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