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Owner of school still walks free despite death of eight and injury of 60 learners

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A day after the tragedy that snuffed out the lives of eight pupils and injured more than 60 when a classroom structure at Precious Talents Top School in Nairobi collapsed, no arrests have been made.

The school’s owner, Mr Moses Wainaina, and his wife Freshia Wainaina, who serves as the school administrator, were still walking free and it was not clear what charges would be preferred against them, if any.

Nairobi regional police commander Philip Ndolo declined to comment on the matter, saying instead that action would be taken based on recommendations of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

“Let’s wait until the investigations are concluded,” Mr Ndolo said in a text message in response to our inquiries.

The school, with a population of more than 800 children, turned into a death trap for children on Monday morning after the floor of one of the classrooms collapsed.

Experts immediately pointed accusing fingers at the building, which they said was a structural failure with just two-inch foundation that could barely support its weight.

According to lawyer Evans Mirieri, prosecutors have an array of charges to prefer against the owner of the collapsed building.

“He can be charged with murder or manslaughter. He can further be charged with section 30 or 31 of the Physical Planning Act if he failed to comply with guidelines governing buildings meant for commercial use,” Mr Mirieri said.

READ ALSO:   Owner of killer Precious Talents school arrested

Families of the injured can also pursue charges, ranging from grievous harm to injury occasioned by collapse of the building.

While admitting that the school is duly registered, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha vowed that a thorough probe would be conducted on the possible causes of the disaster, and action taken.

‘‘I wish to state categorically that children of Kenyans are safe in schools… This single tragic incident must not be used by anyone to instil fear in learners in both public and private schools,’’ Prof Magoha said.

Prof Magoha took issue with the weak storey structure the pupils had been crammed in, which he insinuated should not have been erected in the first place.

“If no storey had been built on top of that structure, no children would have died,” he said.

The CS also faulted the time the pupils had reported to school, 6am, which is too early for learners in pre-primary. Yesterday, parents of those who perished in the tragedy recorded statements with the DCI at Kabete. Postmortem examination of the bodies is expected to take place tomorrow.

Besides the owners of the building, officials at both the Ministry of Education and the Nairobi County, who allowed the school to operate, will also be answerable for negligence, which resulted in the deaths and injuries.

From his impersonal tone and lack of remorse when he addressed the media following the school tragedy at Ngando in Dagoretti, Mr Wainaina, the proprietor of Precious Talents Academy, demonstrated a characteristic arrogance with which he seems to have operated the school for more than 10 years.

READ ALSO:   Owner of killer Precious Talents school arrested

Although structural integrity of the classes he has put up were questioned by all and sundry, Mr Wainaina confidently pointed fingers elsewhere, while absolving himself from blame. “They had good intentions to help this school but an accident has happened,”

Mr Wainiana said in reference to a sewer line that the county government of Nairobi had sunk behind the ill-fated building.

Opinion is divided on the character of Mr Wainaina, with some parents and neighbours describing him as an arrogant businessman, and others saying he is quite understanding and would permit children to continue with their studies even when they had fees arrears.

Mr Wainaina is a familiar figure in Ngando, Dagoretti residents say. He is not only the owner of the most populous school in the area, but is also their neighbour. They describe him as a simple man with nothing elaborate about him.

‘‘He drives an old Toyota Rav 4 car,’’ Mr Nyongesa, a local bishop who knows him,

told the Nation.

“Mr Wainaina and his family have lived here for more than 10 years,’’ Mr Nyongesa added. A parent with a child in the school, who identified herself only as Grace, said Mr Wainaina is a conceited man who brushes off parents’ concerns, and often expels children whose parents complain about the school.

READ ALSO:   Owner of killer Precious Talents school arrested

“Most of us have only kept our children in the school because we have nowhere else to take them,” said Grace. It is this desperation by parents that Mr Wainaina is said to have been exploiting for many years.

Parents have another Catch-22 situation. Precious Talents Academy is the best performing school in the area. In last year’s KCPE, for instance, the school had seven candidates who scored more than 400 marks while the majority got more than 350 marks.

With this impressive performance, parents are often hesitant to transfer their children to other schools.

“He supervises teaching in the school in person,” Mr Njeru, a parent with a child in the school, told the Nation. “He works until late in the evening most of the times.”

“My two children and those of my brother have all gone through the school, from Standard One to Standard Eight. The teachers emphasise a lot on performance,” another parent said.

When the Nation visited the school yesterday, Mr Wainaina and his wife were meeting the school’s managers at the institution.

Mr Wainaina, however, refused to talk to us about the tragedy, and left the compound in a huff under the pretext of answering a phone call.

 


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Man’s burial inside his house baffles Kirinyaga residents

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Residents of Mucagara Village in Kirinyaga County were on Wednesday evening treated to a rare funeral after a man was buried inside his house.

They watched in astonishment as the coffin containing the remains of the 65-year-old retired coffee factory manager, Simon Muriithi Mwaniki, was lowered into the grave that had been dug in the living room.

Some whispered to each other during the dramatic send-off which left many in awe.

According to the man’s relative, prior to his death, he had expressed his wish to be buried in the house.

Emotions ran high as the funeral ceremony went on in the village in Gichugu Constituency.

“We had to act according to his wishes to avoid a curse and being haunted by his spirits,” said Mr James Njuki, the man’s eldest son.

Mwaniki was hurriedly buried in a brief ceremony conducted by an African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa priest, Jackson Muchiri.

Committed suicide

When Mwaniki committed suicide, no one mourned his death as he had asked family members not to do so when he was alive.

“Before he took his life he had told us that there should be no mourning when he dies. Therefore, we ensured that we never gathered at any time within the homestead to mourn him,” added Mr Njuki.

READ ALSO:   Owner of killer Precious Talents school arrested

Mr Njuki recalled how on November 18 they found their father dangling from the roof of his house with a rope around his neck.

It was then that the matter was reported to the local police officers who drove to the scene and took the body to Kibugi Funeral Home.

His children suspected that their father took his life due to the depression he suffered after his wife, Juliana Muthoni, died.

“My father started drinking heavily after his wife died. He loved my mother so much and we think he was so much affected by her death and became depressed,” said Mr Njuki.

Rev Muchiri described the funeral as unique.

“For the 38 years that I have been conducting funerals, this is the first time to bury someone inside a house,” he said.

The residents said they were taken aback when they arrived at the homestead and saw the grave inside Mwaniki’s house.

“We were baffled. We have never witnessed such a funeral in this village. This is a funeral of its own kind which shocked all of us,” Mr Eliud Muriithi said.

by nation.africa


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Where were the authorities? residents ask as Kenyan man is buried inside his living room

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Residents of Mucagara Village in Kirinyaga County were on Wednesday evening treated to a rare funeral after a man was buried inside his house.

They watched in astonishment as the coffin containing the remains of the 65-year-old retired coffee factory manager, Simon Muriithi Mwaniki, was lowered into the grave that had been dug in the living room.

Some whispered to each other during the dramatic send-off which left many in awe.

According to the man’s relative, prior to his death, he had expressed his wish to be buried in the house.

Emotions ran high as the funeral ceremony went on in the village in Gichugu Constituency.

“We had to act according to his wishes to avoid a curse and being haunted by his spirits,” said Mr James Njuki, the man’s eldest son.

Mwaniki was hurriedly buried in a brief ceremony conducted by an African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa priest, Jackson Muchiri.

Committed suicide

When Mwaniki committed suicide, no one mourned his death as he had asked family members not to do so when he was alive.

“Before he took his life he had told us that there should be no mourning when he dies. Therefore, we ensured that we never gathered at any time within the homestead to mourn him,” added Mr Njuki.

READ ALSO:   Owner of killer Precious Talents school arrested

Mr Njuki recalled how on November 18 they found their father dangling from the roof of his house with a rope around his neck.

It was then that the matter was reported to the local police officers who drove to the scene and took the body to Kibugi Funeral Home.

His children suspected that their father took his life due to the depression he suffered after his wife, Juliana Muthoni, died.

“My father started drinking heavily after his wife died. He loved my mother so much and we think he was so much affected by her death and became depressed,” said Mr Njuki.

Rev Muchiri described the funeral as unique.

“For the 38 years that I have been conducting funerals, this is the first time to bury someone inside a house,” he said.

The residents said they were taken aback when they arrived at the homestead and saw the grave inside Mwaniki’s house.

“We were baffled. We have never witnessed such a funeral in this village. This is a funeral of its own kind which shocked all of us,” Mr Eliud Muriithi said.

-Nation.co.ke


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Tales of old widows of Dundori raped by ‘grandchildren’

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It was only 9pm, a relatively safe hour or so, the 60-year-old thought. She was home alone when a man forced his way in, tore her clothes and repeatedly raped her.

She did not recognize him through a glance on his face, but from how he hankered, he was tall.

That was on July 5, this year, and the memories of that night are still fresh in the mind of the victim – whose name we have concealed to protect her privacy.

Before the ordeal, the victim had only heard rumours of widows being raped in her Dundori neighbourhood in Nakuru County – a place now well known for the crimes.

Here, sunset years are a traumatising period for women – especially widows. In the dead of the night, they live in constant fear that young men will pounce on them and rape them.

“I live with my granddaughter in a two bedroomed house. On the fateful day, I heard a commotion outside and thought my two cows had fled the pen and I stepped out to check what was happening,” she says.

She tells the Nation that the attacker covered her mouth, dragged her into a dark sidewalk within the compound and raped her.

“I was rushed to Dundori Health Centre. I was treated and obtained a P3 form. Thereafter, I recorded a statement at Dundori Police Post, but the offender is yet to be arrested to date,” she says, adding that her self-esteem is fading away at the thought of not knowing who did that to her and why.

Living in fear

“I live in fear, because my attacker can strike again,” says the mother of five adult children.

Kilometres away in a neighbouring village, 62-year-old Wambui, (not her real name) also a widow, is living in fear months after she went through a similar ordeal.

“I was attacked at home by a gang of three men who raped me in turns in the presence of my granddaughter. They are yet to be arrested,” she says.

Wambui reveals that the assailants stormed her home where she lives with her granddaughter and tied them up before committing the heinous act.

“We had just taken supper around 8pm when they pushed their way into the compound. I reported the matter to the police, but they are yet to act,” she notes.

Another victim, a 90-year-old granny, says she lives alone after her husband died decades ago.

The Nation encountered at least 16 elderly women claiming to have been raped in Dundori in the past three months. Among them is a 90-year-old granny, whom a Nyumba Kumi official reveals has been raped five times.

Residents who spoke to the Nation point a finger at young men who indulge in drugs in the area.

“They peddle drugs and commit all sorts of crime including house break-ins, without interference of the police,” says the resident of Kaburini Village.

He claims that police from Dundori Police Post collude with the criminals to defeat justice.

“We do not even have police patrols in Dundori and criminals enjoy a field day. Peddling of drugs like bhang, sale of illicit brews, house break-ins, rapes and defilements are the order of the day here,” he adds.

Rape survivors suffer trauma, headaches and memory lapses. Worse is the constant fear they live with, that the attackers might strike again.

The most affected villages include Juacali, Kaburini and Tia Wera, where an account of the victims paint a similar pattern in timing and manner.

The perpetrators

Assistant County Commissioner Henry Kirwa, however, says most victims are yet to report the incidents.

He adds: “To help police track down suspects, they must report the incidents promptly.”

Interestingly, only eight victims have reported incidents of rape at the Dundori Police Post.

When reached for comment, Bahati Sub-county police boss Jacinta Mwarania promised to investigate the matter.

A Nyumba Kumi elder who sought anonymity reveals that rape cases among elderly women in the area have become rampant but police officers are doing little to save the situation.

“These cases are on the rise and every time they are reported to the police, victims are asked to produce more evidence to nail the suspects,” the elder says.

Another Nyumba Kumi official says the incidents happen at night between 8pm and 3am and that the perpetrators are sometimes known people.

In a recent incident, a Class Eight pupil was defiled at her home at about 7pm. Sources say the matter was reported to the police, but the assailant is still walking free days after his brief arrest.

by nation.africa


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