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I think of suicide daily, troubled detective says

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Mr Jones Nyamu Muthui, a criminal investigations officer based at Kapsabet Police Station in Nandi County, is a depressed, suicidal man.

He says that every day, he thinks of how he can kill himself in order to escape from his mounting tribulations, a situation he links to his boss.

In letters seen by the Nation and which he sent to his bosses in Nairobi recently, the officer clearly indicated that he is depressed and is giving up on life.

In a tell-all exclusive interview with the Nation that shows what officers investigating big cases involving millions of money go through, Mr Muthui said he had decided to speak out following advice by some of his colleagues who were worried about him after he revealed his suicidal thoughts to them.

Mr Muthui, a police corporal, has been the lead regional investigator in the suspected loss of millions of shillings from the Sh15 billion compensation kitty established by the Jubilee administration during its first term for the internally displaced persons including the 2007/2008 group.

The officer, who joined the police service in 2002 after high school, said he had cracked a cartel in early 2018 that was swindling money from the vulnerable displaced persons by using their IDs to siphon millions of shillings in collusion with top managers of a local bank that was the custodian of the money.

Early last year, upon thorough investigations, he established that a Ms Margaret Wangoto Gathoni was allegedly leading an extortion ring that was going around the country taking money from IDPs with a promise to put them in a genuine list of beneficiaries.

He said she was using the identification documents of the IDPs to generate a list that would then be presented to the bank and the money would be released to her to take to them, which never happened.

Ms Gathoni is a former member of the National Coordination Consultative Committee on Internally Displaced Persons chaired by Mr Adan Wachu.

Ms Gathoni has vehemently denied the extortion accusations.

But having established the case, Mr Muthui decided to summon her last year.

However, unaware that he was about to open the gates to hell on earth, Mr Muthui asked her to appear in his office in Kapsabet in March 2018 where he took her statement and fingerprints in preparation for arresting and presenting her in court.

TROUBLES

“That was the beginning of my troubles,” he said.

He said in July 2018, as he was putting together the evidence before finally presenting her in court, Ms Gathoni approached him, asking him to drop the case with a promise of a bribe, which he declined.

“She promised me Sh300,000 to drop the case. Later she promised Sh3 million so that the file could disappear fully. But having taken the oath at Kiganjo to obey the Constitution, I declined once again and told her I would not be intimidated by anyone,” the officer said, adding that despite Ms Gathoni claiming she was related to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, he soldiered on with the investigations.

Not long after, he was summoned by his boss, the Nandi County Criminal Investigations Officer Sammy Mukeku, who asked him to hand over the file.

Mr Muthui declined to do so.

This marked the beginning of his troubles.

“When I decided to take her to court, my boss summoned me and asked me to hand over the file. I declined and requested him to make it formal. I asked him to do a memo to me requesting the same and also that we do an inventory of the file because it is the procedure required when handling over high-profile cases like the one I was on,” he said.

As things got thicker, he suddenly received a transfer letter which he interpreted as aiming to cripple the high-profile case.

“When I refused, my boss threatened me, saying he would take stern action against me. This February I was maliciously transferred to Lamu which was occasioned by my boss. I have requested for the transfer to be rescinded for at least three years for me to complete my master’s degree because there is no Jkuat campus in Lamu,” said Mr Muthui.

He is pursuing a master’s degree in Information Technology at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (Jkuat), Eldoret campus.

Upon his refusal to go to Lamu, he was reported to the police headquarters and his salary was immediately stopped.

“I have not received any salary since April. I have a feeling I’m being transferred to Lamu so that I can be eliminated and the same blamed on Al Shabaab operatives there (sic),” he told the Nation.

Other than failure to get his pay, he said he has since been locked out of office for close to a year. His firearm has also been taken away.

After being declared an outcast in Kapsabet, he decided to write to the Internal Affairs Unit, the police department that handle officers’ affairs, requesting for its intervention.

In a letter dated April 25, 2019, he set out his case against his boss, requesting the unit to intervene and ensure his job is safeguarded and justice served.

He clearly indicated that he was thinking of taking his own life to escape from the troubles he was facing in the course of his duty.

“I am hypertensive and Mr Mukeku’s actions have made me sink to depression, hopelessness and on the verge of giving up on life, a matter which has also negatively affected my family,” he said in the letter.

After he wrote the letter, officers from the unit visited the station and recorded statements from him and Mr Mukeku.

Nothing has happened since then.

Unsatisfied, Mr Muthui sought the assistance of the National Police Service Commission last August but he is yet to get any response as well.

“I have incurred huge debts and at the same time I have not been able to adequately provide for my family. All these has made me to feel suicidal most of the times. It is only by the grace of God that I have been able to write this letter. My family has been organising for my counselling but I am on the verge of giving up on life instead of going through all this trauma and pain caused to me as a result of my performance of my duties as per the law,” he wrote to the commission on August 27.

“The said Gathoni, together with members of her cartel, have been traversing Nandi, Siaya, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Laikipia collecting millions of shillings from vulnerable, needy and ignorant members of the public for the purpose of registering them with a promise that the national government will compensate them by giving them monies and allocate parcels of land,” he indicated in the letter to the police headquarters.

The officer, who joined the DCI from the General Service Unit, has pleaded with his bosses for understanding for breaking protocol, saying he did not have other options but to speak out.

“This is a high-profile case. I ask my President, CS Matiang’i, IG Hillary Mutyambai, to kindly forgive me because I am not supposed to speak to the media but the only other option I had today was to commit suicide. I have been suicidal most of the time. I have been on anti-depressants most of the time,” said the father of three.

In his response to Mr Muthui’s accusations, Mr Mukeku, the Nandi criminal investigations boss, denied that he was trying to interfere with the IDPs’ case, saying that as the boss, he was only interested in knowing its progress.

He said the case was on its infancy and that nothing much had come from it.

He also added that he was aware that Ms Gathoni had been summoned to record a statement by Mr Muthui.

“As the (officer) in the charge of the office here, I am supposed to get the progress of all investigations because I am the one monitoring them. I was the chairman of the multi-agency team that handled the case. The corporal initiated the investigations but the multi-agency team soon took over from him.

“I know he summoned a lady called, Gathoni. The lady came to my office with an advocate and other four suspects. I called Muthui to bring the file but he declined. I ordered him to record the statements from Gathoni and the others but he became elusive. The file was becoming problematic. A case of such a nature must be properly done before it is forwarded to the State office for directions. I have no authority to close an investigation until it goes full circle,” the DCI boss said.

On the transfer, Mr Mukeku said he does not have the powers to do so, saying it is the decision of the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti.

“It is the prerogative of the director of DCI to transfer officers. I played no role in the transfer of this officer. He was transferred with other 348 officers across the country. There was no specific case which I know of which caused this transfer,” Mr Mukeku said.

He said the officer is only frustrating himself by refusing to obey matching orders and going to Lamu immediately.

“This officer is frustrating himself. We are working in the disciplined service. He signed a contract with the government that he can work anywhere. The director saw that he is fit to work in Lamu where his services are required. He is frustrating himself by failing to obey police orders. If he cannot obey orders who is he accountable to? There is nothing special here,” Mr Mukeku added.

And speaking to the  Nation, Ms Gathoni said she was aware of the investigations and that Mr Muthui had questioned her, promising to take her to court.

She said she is ready to face him in court and defend herself.

She added that she has never offered anyone a bribe and will not do so in the future.

“I do not have such kind of money to give to anyone. He should stop spoiling my name with these claims. He is just interested in soiling my name through the media. I am ready to take him to court for doing that, tell him so,” she said when the Nation reached out to her.

She said her tenure at the IDPs commission ended in 2017 and she is now focusing on her timber business.

“I was not so poor when I was appointed. I had already bought a car. Some people have been claiming I used IDPs’ money to buy a car. Let them know I was not that poor. I am a business lady who has earned from her businesses,” she said.

Ms Gathoni accused the officer of becoming a “coordinator of IDPs” instead of an independent investigator.

“Mr Muthui has taken me through so much troubles. I have only been praying to God to protect me,” she added.

by Nation

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Health

Alarm as town becomes new pandemic hotspot

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Shaban Juma jumps out of his truck and walks into a shop in Jua kali town in Uasin Gishu County, to buy a cigarette.

The visibly frustrated truck driver has stayed in Jua Kali, a village trading centre located about 30 kilometres from Eldoret, for the last eight days.

He mingles with a number of residents as he returns to his truck where about ten other truck drivers from Mombasa, heading to Uganda and Congo gather for a discussion.

This has been his new routine for days. Juma left Mombasa more than a week ago and is stuck in the highway town located in Turbo constituency, Uasin Gishu County.

Business as usual

Like him, more than 700 trucks and a group of 1,400 drivers and their turn boys have been camping at Jua Kali for more than a week owing to a Covid-19 testing deadlock at the Kenya Uganda border. Despite the rising coronavirus cases, restaurants and shops are operating as usual.

Worryingly, Turbo in Uasin Gishu County is the new epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, after tests confirmed that 26 out of 28 Uasin Gishu’s coronavirus positive cases are truck drivers from Mombasa who make stopovers along towns on the highway.

Last Friday and Saturday, eight and 11 truck drivers respectively tested positive for the disease, according to daily reports by Ministry of Health.

To contain the spread, the government set up a testing centre at Huruma, one of the areas where the truck drivers have been spending the nights en route to Uganda. Jua Kali is less than ten kilometres from the mobile testing centre in Huruma.

The truck drivers and their turn boys say they decided to crowd in the small town until a traffic snarl-up occasioned by delays in Covid-19 testing in Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda, eases. Juma explains why most of them have been camping in the area instead of the border area. “We have more than 700 trucks here and more are still coming because it is better to spend the days here than be stranded on the Kenya-Uganda border,” Juma says.

He says they were tested for Covid-19 before leaving Mombasa and have never undergone the tests in Uasin Gishu, but residents along the towns are expressing fears of contracting the disease.

Truck driver Michael Kariuki says his body temperature was taken once for the entire eight days he has been camping in Turbo. Mr Kariuki says he had learnt about the rising numbers of truck drivers testing positive in Turbo yet there was no testing taking place.

He says more trucks are leaving Mombasa and they will stop in Eldoret until a traffic that has reached Webuye in the neighbouring Bungoma County. And there is a downside to these negative reports.

Fueling stigma

“The Covid-19 reports have led to our stigmatisation here in Kenya and Uganda. Ugandans are good people but the Kenyan government is recklessly publicising information that has created a perception that all truck drivers from Mombasa are Covid-19 positive. Our government should be sensitive on the reports it is relaying about us,” he says.

Lazaro Wanjohi, a trucker who has also been in Turbo for over a week, says they have been asked by authorities in Uasin Gishu not to interact with locals but no government official was enforcing the directive.

“We rarely see police providing security here. You can’t stop people interacting and buying from locals,” Wanjohi says.At a guest house along the busy highway, several Kenyan and Congolese drivers and some mechanics from Uasin Gishu, had gathered to enjoy a meal as they share their frustrations.

A worker at the joint says they were instructed not to allow truck drivers to spend the nights in the hotel but she admitted that several male clients were spending time, during the day with their girlfriends – a worrying habit. “We receive clients who spend day times with local women in the hotel rooms but sleep in their trucks at night,” the worker says.

In a spot check, The Standard discovered that several eateries along the new 35 kilometres hot spot highway stretching from Eldoret to Turbo town were receiving customers, both locals and truck drivers. Jua Kali resident Silas Kipkemboi, a mechanic, said he has not stopped fixing puncture and other technical issues for truckers despite the fears.

“They cook here at night and we share meals. During the day, most of them take their meals in eateries,” he says. Samuel Karanja, another resident said: “Most truck drivers are our friends. We do business with them. We have heard on TV that most of them are testing positive for coronavirus but here things are just normal.”

Uasin Gishu County Executive Committee member (CECM) for health Evelyne Rotich said county authorities were not in a position to monitor the conduct of truck drivers while making stopovers along the highway.

“We can’t track movements and interaction of the truck drivers. This a multi-agency issue and all of us have a responsibility to enforce the measures,” Ms Rotich said.

She said of 17 cases confirmed positive by Friday, eight of the truckers were residents of Uasin Gishu. Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago on Thursday warned truck drivers from visiting their relatives whenever they were on their way to Uganda.

“We are asking truck drivers from Uasin Gishu to spare their families during this period,” Mandago warned. Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa said the issues that have been causing delays at Malaba border have been resolved.

“Moi Teaching and Referral has been testing truck drivers who have not been tested in Mombasa and those whose test certificates have expired,” the commissioner said. He added: “Yes, there have been contacts between the long distance drivers and locals. We have held meetings and this will not happen again because we are clearing all trucks in Uasin Gishu.”

By Standard.co.ke

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Entertainment

Betty Kyalo quits K24 TV

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Sassy TV presenter Betty Kyalo has ended his two-year-old relationship with K24 TV with an emotional farewell to her fans in what appears to be her last show at the troubled station.

The popular Kyalo, formerly of KTN, also hinted she will soon join a rival media station.

“I really appreciate you all. It is now time for me to say goodbye here on K24 TV. Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate you, God bless you and I love you,” she said.

Kyalo, who boasts a huge following on social media, anchors news and host two human interest shows on Friday and Saturday on K24 TV.

Kyalo’s exit was somehow expected considering the TV station’s parent company Mediamax Network Limited has been struggling financially and is set to lay off staff for in the coming month for the second time in six months.

Kyalo’s exit also comes at a time a group of employees at the company moved to court following a payment row with the management over a planned 50 percent pay-cut as a way of mitigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Mediamax Network Limited has since announced its intent to retrench staff in the coming month, the second of such an exercise since December 2019.

By NN

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Health

151 cases, but Kibra isn’t on lockdown

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The government appears hesitant to put Nairobi’s Kibra estate on lockdown despite increased number of Covid-19 cases that now stand at 151.

This figure is more than the cases recorded in Eastleigh and Mombasa’s Old Town which are on lockdown until June 6, 2020. The two areas were put under lockdown by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on May 6 after recording 58 and 67 cases, respectively. So far, Eastleigh has 121 and while Old Town has 91 cases.

Issuing yesterday’s Covid-19 update where he announced 143 new cases, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said informal settlements in the country were on the government’s radar. “We have seen increasing concern around Kibra partly because of extended testing,” said Dr Aman.

Aman announced that surveillance teams were focusing on Kenya’s largest informal.“If these numbers continue to increase, necessary interventions have to be taken,” he said. The number of Covid-19 cases in Kibra have been increasing steadily.

Between May 21 and May 28, the area had 99 cases. The adjacent Lang’ata area had 31 cases, most of which the ministry said were from Kibra.

From yesterday’s figures, where 143 people tested positive across the country, Kibra came second after Makadara estate in Nairobi. Out of the 86 cases in Nairobi, 45 were from Makadara while 21 were from Kibra.

Embakasi South come third with six cases. Langata had one case. There was no reported case from Eastleigh. Health Director General Patrick Amoth said densely populated informal settlements have become hotspots for the disease.

“It is practically difficult to ensure social distancing. The only measure left (in informal settlements) now is hygiene and use of masks,” said Dr Amoth.

According to the Director General, lack of access to clean water has played a role in the disease’s rapid spread in informal settlements.

Apart from Kibra, Eastleigh and now Makadara, Mathare is the other informal settlement which has registered more cases, the highest being 33.

So far, the disease has spread to 33 counties, the latest being Kericho which reported one case in Ainamoi area. Uasin Gishu reported 11 cases, all truck drivers.

August peak

The peak of the disease in Kenya is expected to be around August and September when the Health ministry predicts a daily tally of 200. “By then, we will be at 4,000 or 5,000 cases and by our fatality ratio, we will be at 160 or 180 deaths then,” said Amoth.

Up to 63 people have died so far from the disease, majority being those with underlying health conditions like asthma, hypertension, diabetes and heart conditions. Majority of the dead were more than 55 years old, prompting the Health ministry to issue caution on unique symptoms of the disease among the elderly. The common symptoms synonymous with Covid-19 are cough, fever, difficulty in breathing and cold.

“The elderly may have different symptoms that include lethargy, diarrhea, confusion, anxiety, unexplained strokes, loss of taste or brain inflammation,” said Amoth.

By Standard.co.ke

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