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Series of blunders that dealt a death blow to Walibora

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Suffering a cracked jaw, a broken hand, two missing teeth, and with blood draining into his brain, Ken Walibora, one of the most celebrated authors and scholars in the country, lay waiting for help that never came for 14 hours at Kenyatta National Hospital on April 10.

He had been knocked down by a bus on Landhies Road in Nairobi hours earlier, even though an autopsy would later reveal that he had also been stabbed, throwing investigations into his death into a spin.

This story exposes the string of mistakes and lack of concern by those who were tasked with the responsibility of taking care of him.

The story starts at 7:18am on April 10, when Walibora left his house at Lavington Heights, Nairobi, for Kijabe Street, where he arrived from the direction of Harry Thuku Road shortly before 8am, parked his dark blue Mercedes-Benz, registration number KBJ 802Y, and stepped out.

He was dressed in a striped T-shirt and open shoes, and held the keys to his car in his right hand as he made his way towards the Globe Roundabout, a few hundred metres away.

There are contradictory reports on whether he left on foot or in another car. While some security guards who saw him say he disappeared from their view on foot, others say he was picked up by another car that drove in the direction of the roundabout.

A few minutes later, as he dashed across the outbound stretch of Landhies Road, next to the entrance to Machakos bus station, he was hit by a bus.

A string of accidents on this dusty and busy stretch of road two years ago forced the government to erect barriers separating the two lanes. Part of the barrier was, however, uprooted, creating an opening for those daring enough to make the 20-metre dash across.

It is believed this was the opening Walibora used to cross as he ran from the Muthurwa side of the road. He never made it.

On being hit, Walibora lay bleeding on the road until a Good Samaritan drove him to hospital. There have been reports that onlookers alerted an ambulance crew to the accident but their calls were ignored.

The Saturday Nation could not establish whether this was true, as detectives told us security surveillance cameras could not capture the exact spot where the accident happened and what transpired soon afterwards.

A police post inside the bus station is roughly 20 metres from the exact spot of the accident, but the incident was not entered into police records until four hours later, at 2pm, and at the Kamukunji Police Station, which is almost a kilometre away.

READ ALSO:   BREAKING: Renowned author Ken Walibora is dead

Walibora was wheeled into the accident and emergency department of Kenyatta National Hospital at a particularly bad time when, even though there weren’t many patients to attend to, the few who were coming in required intensive care.

Ever since the government invoked the Public Health Act that introduced a dusk-to-dawn curfew and closed bars and other entertainment joints, the number of people who are rushed into the emergency department with injuries from knife stabs, bar brawls, and drink-driving has dropped.

So the nurse we spoke to had a photographic memory of the 14 hours during which Walibora was swinging between life and death.

He did not have any form of identification, so they recorded him as ‘Unknown African Male’. Or, simply, a John Doe.

Doctors ordered two tests on him, an X-ray examination and a CT scan. The latter showed extensive damage to his head, so doctors resolved that he needed to be put in intensive care.

Unfortunately, all the 22 beds in KNH’s main intensive care unit were occupied, and the five in the emergency section were also unavailable.

Had he been with his identification documents, medics would at this point have reached out to his next of kin for guidance on other available options outside the hospital.

But because he didn’t have any, and couldn’t himself ask to be transferred elsewhere, the staff at KNH decided to let him stay there with them.

And so, still unconscious, he was moved into one of the wards, where he was to wait for an ICU bed to become available. He died waiting for that bed.

Last evening the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Mbito, said it had summoned the hospital’s chief executive officer, Dr Evans Kamuri, to answer to claims of negligence.

“We want to meet the CEO on Monday over what happened at the hospital’s emergency unit, as the inquiry into the death sets off,” the Senate said.

The Saturday Nation has established that the case has since been transferred to the Homicide Unit at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road, Nairobi.

It was initially handled by the traffic department of Kamukunji Police Station before being transferred to the criminal investigations unit at Central Police Station four days later.

Meanwhile, street boys who found Walibora’s press card and car keys took them to Kamukunji Police Station, where officers logged them as lost-and-found items. They never followed up on the matter until it emerged that the author had died.

READ ALSO:   Detectives seek call data in Walibora death probe

Consequently, several crucial hours were lost in saving the author’s life, and thereafter at least five days in following leads that could have nailed his killers.

To date, the driver of the Double M bus, Mr George Mburu, has not been arrested despite police saying they were going to charge him for causing death by dangerous driving.

Detectives said Mr Mburu claimed he never saw Walibora running across the road, and that he may have hit the bus from the side.

However, people who witnessed the accident said Walibora was being chased by street boys and was hit as he tried to run across the road.

Nairobi police boss Philip Ndolo said the driver was chased, arrested and made to record a statement after the accident.

But if that is true, why did it take four hours for the accident to be entered in the Occurrence Book at Kamukunji Police Station?

Additionally, why has the driver not been charged in court for causing death by dangerous driving?

Police say they are now focusing their energies on who may have stabbed the author in the minutes leading to his death, after Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor recommended further investigations into the death after he found injuries that he said he could not convincingly link to the accident.

“The wound on the right hand was caused by sharp trauma. When someone is hit by a vehicle, the wound is usually indicative of being hit by a blunt object. This one was sharp,” Dr Oduor said.

How Walibora ended up on the chaotic side of the city centre may provide answers to who exactly stabbed him, and why.

It is not yet known where he was in the one hour between 8am and around 9am, when he was hit by the bus, or if he had any other engagements in town.

Some of his relatives have told the police that he was looking for building materials to send upcountry.

Additionally, an analysis of his mobile phone records shows that at the time of his death he was engaged in a dispute with one of his publishers, and that they were supposed to meet on the day he died.

As in any business, it is common for authors to have disputes with their publishers. The 56-year-old had dozens of books to his name, with the Kiswahili novel Siku Njema the most famous.

READ ALSO:   Questions raised on why author’s death was not reported

The circumstances under which Walibora lost his life are a cautionary tale to the government, which has continuously underfunded the public health system.

One of the questions the Senate will be seeking to answer is how a taxpayer and law-abiding citizen who could afford a private health facility had been let down at his greatest hour of need.

The negligence of the medical staff aside, KNH, like many public hospitals, is grossly underfunded and understaffed.

A 2019 study published by Elsevier showed that emergencies — mostly road accidents and falls — take up the majority of the facility’s traffic.

While most of the patients, at 61 per cent, who walk into KNH are treated in the emergency centre, observed and discharged, another 33 per cent require admissions.

Of those who remain in the hospital, only one in every three that are triaged and found to be in need of ICU admission actually gets it. Walibora was in this unfortunate group.

The World Health Organisation notes that road accidents claim 1.2 million people globally; nine of every 10 of them, or 90 per cent, are in sub-Saharan Africa.

This has baffled experts because Africa has only two per cent of the world’s vehicles, but the deaths on roads are 24 per 100,000 deaths, compared to 10 in Europe.

For the most part of his career, Walibora never needed to open his mouth to introduce himself — his poems, books and essays did that for him.

But on the Friday that he was knocked down, that sense of adopted anonymity, established over the years of his celebrated career as a writer, worked against him.

He couldn’t introduce himself, and none of the nurses who received the battered, middle-aged man recognised him.

And so one of the most famous names in Kenya and the region, a man who had valiantly taken up the ambassadorial role of a Kiswahili agent, lay alone on a stretcher; the bright lights in the casualty section of the region’s biggest referral hospital illuminating the rivulets of blood slowly but steadily soaking his clothes.

Walibora was dying, every drop of blood slowly sapping the life out of him, but no one seemed to care. Because no one knew who he was.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday this week at his rural home in Makutano, Cherangany, Trans Nzoia County.

By Saturday Nation 

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News

Body of missing Maranda teacher recovered in River Nzoia

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The body of a teacher at Maranda High School who went missing two weeks ago has been found floating in River Nzoia.

The decomposed body of Kevin Otieno Ongoma was sighted by a resident of Sio Port at Bukoma area on Thursday evening.

The 33-year-old teacher went missing on October 10, 2020.

Siaya county police commander Mr Francis Kooli on Friday told the Nation the deceased’s family members positively identified the body following its discovery.

“Someone spotted a body in the river with similar clothes to the ones the teacher had when he went missing. The school was later informed about the discovery,” Kooli said.

The police commander said they suspect the teacher may have committed suicide.

“It is highly suspected that he might have committed suicide by throwing himself into the river but investigations will however establish what happened,” said Mr Kooli.

Suicide theory

But some family members have dismissed the suicide theory, claiming that the body of the deceased had injuries, an indication that the teacher could have been tortured, killed and dumped in the river.

They asked the police to conduct thorough investigations into the teacher’s death.

The Nation has established that the deceased will be buried on Monday, October 26 at his home village in Mbosie.

READ ALSO:   Police pursue dispute angle in Walibora’s death

A teacher at Maranda High School, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Nation that a burial committee has already been formed at the school.

“We have been meeting to make burial arrangements, including contributing money towards the same ,” he said.

A police report seen earlier by the Nation indicates that the teacher, who headed the head biology department in the school, was last seen leaving the school while driving his car.

The vehicle was found the following day abandoned near River Nzoia in Ugunja Sub-county.

According to detectives investigating the matter, the teacher lived with his family within the school compound.

“He left the school quarters that morning and drove himself to an unknown destination,” said Mr Kooli.

His two mobile phones went off near the banks of river Nzoia where his vehicle was recovered.

Police said the body is being preserved at Ambira Sub-county Hospital mortuary.

by nation.co.ke

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Lifestyle

Alarm as more children are caught up in deadly lovers’ tiffs

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“What wrong did my son do to deserve such a death?”  a father asked as he watched the body of his 11-year-old son wheeled into a mortuary. The boy was a victim of a failed relationship between the mother and an estranged lover.

His death adds to the growing list of children paying the ultimate price due to fights between their parents.

Gideon Kang’ethe, Shanice Maua and Prince Michael are among the victims. And so are Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru, both 10 years old.

On October 22, Mercy Gathoni (35), her daughter Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru her niece, were found strangled in a shop at Jambo in Karatina Town.

Initial investigations by homicide detectives point at yet another case of children caught up in adult fights.

They were found lying on a bed each with a rope around their necks, an indication that they had been strangled to death.  Detectives placed their time of death at between 10am and 1pm.

Commotion

What has baffled both the residents and the police is that no one heard any commotion despite the fact that the scene where the murder was committed usually has heavy human traffic as it is along the busy Karatina-Nairobi highway.

READ ALSO:   Autopsy reveals Ken Walibora had deep knife cuts & two missing teeth

According to residents, Ms Gathoni was last seen at around 9am. It still remains unclear how a man, believed to be known to the victims, walked into the backroom of the shop and strangled them.

After noticing that the shopkeeper was not attending to customers, Ms Gathoni’s niece Faith was sent to check on them. She was also strangled.

The bodies, according to residents were found at around 1pm in a room behind a grocery shop by Gathoni’s sister, Ms Rahab Mugure, who had gone to look for her daughter who had overstayed after being sent to check on her aunt.

Love triangle

In yet another case of a love affair turned sour, an innocent boy’s life was cut short brutally after he was caught up in a love triangle he neither understood nor played part in.

He had been reported missing for a week.  Mr Charles Muriuki was identified as a prime suspect in what was then seen as abduction of the Kirigu School pupil.

For days, detectives interrogated him at the Karatina sub county police headquarters as he denied his involvement. Kangethe’s body was found decomposing in a grave in Mathira, Nyeri County.

Mr Muriuki is now facing murder charges, accused of killing Kang’ethe.

Shanice and Prince Michael were also killed following a bitter spat between their mother and former Kenya Defence Forces soldier Peter Mugure.

READ ALSO:   Ken Walibora's mother recounts last conversation with late son

by nation.co.ke

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Business

I bought a car from an online bazaar, but it ended in tears

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Buyer beware! The sleek car that you saw on that online bazaar may not be on sale – but a ruse to rip you off.

Three buyers fell for this trap, hoodwinked by a smooth-talking ‘salesman’ who promised to help them upgrade their cars, in a saga that ended in tears.

And the victims had thought that because a lawyer was involved in the transaction, this protected their interests as well. However, the manner in which they lost their cash raises questions about his role.

The address was an office block in the city centre, where the sale agreements would be drafted, buyers would part with their cash and the seller would thereafter vanish into thin air without delivering the vehicle.

Since 2018, when one of the cases was reported, the victim is yet to recover his money, with the lawyer claiming he did not know the seller.

This year, however, two more people have fallen prey to the scam and it’s unclear how many more have been conned.

Wanted to upgrade his car

Earlier this year, Mr Kelvin Ngugi, 23, wanted to upgrade his KBX Toyota Sienta and, while scrolling through the internet one evening, he came across a dealer who identified himself as Mr Ronald Bundi on Jiji.ke, the online classifieds website that acquired OLX.

Mr Bundi was willing to trade in Mr Ngugi’s old vehicle and Mr Ngugi, impressed at the convenience of that possibility, began making arrangements for that to happen.

However, before the deal could be closed, Mr Bundi informed him that the trade-in option was no longer viable.

He was left with the sole option of selling his car to buy the one he wanted, a white Toyota Sienta, registration KCQ.

Mr Ngugi hunted for a buyer, sold it and reached out to Mr Bundi for the car he wanted. He was informed the car was still available at a showroom along Kiambu road at Sh600,000.

“The plan was that I pay a Sh500,000 deposit and remit the balance in instalments of Sh25,000,” recalled Ngugi.

Mr Kelvin Ngugi.

On February 19, when they were to close the deal, Mr Bundi advised Mr Ngugi to meet him at lawyer Wilberforce Mariaria Nyaboga’s office at Uniafric House, along Koinange Street, for the payment and signing of a sale agreement.

Mr Ngugi says he did as advised, returned with the money and gave it to the lawyer, who, alongside the seller, started counting it.

When they confirmed the amount, the seller offered to go get the car with Mr Ngugi’s father from a garage in Hurlingham.

Mr Bundi explained the car had been taken to Hurlingham to be fitted with an alarm system to ease its tracking in the event Mr Ngugi failed to remit the balance.

Unbeknown to Mr Ngugi, this was the seller’s trick to get away with his money.

The two stepped out to hop onto motorbike taxis to speed them to the garage, but Mr Bundi sped past Mr Ngugi’s father and disappeared.

“Later Dad called to inform me that they had lost him. We tried reaching Bundi on the phone in vain.  That is how I realised I had been conned,” he said.

Mr Ngugi says he recorded a statement with a Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officer at Central Police Station but that is yet to bear any fruit.

He says the police have been unable to track down both Mr Bundi and the lawyer, even on the occasions the latter is spotted at his office.
On Thursday, the lawyer denied knowing Ngugi and ever having drafted the agreement.
————

Another victim

After giving up hope of ever recovering the Sh900,000 she paid for a Toyota RAV4, Ms Florence Awour (36) decided to share her predicament on a Facebook’s parenting group to expose Mr Bundi, who had conned her too.

Ms Awuor had spotted the car at Jiji.ke and involved her brother in making the purchase. She paid Sh1.1 million through the lawyer’s Equity Bank account but never got the car.

Ms Florence Awour.

Nation Media Group

Her brother had been assured the car was at a yard along Kiambu road. Her brother and a mechanic had checked out and test-driven the car twice before she paid for it.

She conducted a search on the car’s registration and realised her brother had also been given a fake logbook.

“I alerted the car’s owner, who in turn filed a report with a DCI officer at Central Police Station under OB number 67/26/02/2020.”

After publicising her tribulations, she said the lawyer refunded Sh200,000 and alleged the balance had been wired to the seller.

Yesterday, the lawyer acknowledged he refunded the money but after realising that the deal had gone sour. He admitted to having recorded a statement at Central police station where the matter has been pending under investigation for months.

“I was acting on behalf of the two because they came to me asking for an agreement to seal their deal. I am therefore not to blame. I am also aware that the police have been hunting the seller who I only know as Robert, who is unknown to me,” he said.

The sale agreement however was with Alice Nancy Momanyi.
—-

Seller disappeared into thin air

Henry Munene Muchiri (35) also gave up after a long wait for justice. He said police were unable to help him recover Sh600,000 paid for a Toyota Sienta bought via OLX but was never delivered to him in 2018.

“After expressing my interest, I was taken to a yard on Ngong Road where I saw the vehicle, inspected it and agreed to make a purchase.”

A Toyota Sienta 2010 model.

File | Nation Media Group

But before the car was released, Mr Munene was asked to accompany the seller to his lawyer’s office in town to sign a sale agreement.

“At some point everything was fine, the car’s logbook and search hinted at no foul play until I was asked to make the payment. Apparently they did not have a bank account so I was requested to pay in cash and I brought the money to the lawyer’s office.”

At some point the seller said he needed to rush downstairs to pick up a laptop for use in the transaction but he never came back.

“The lawyer claimed he didn’t know the seller in person and I reported the matter at Central Police Station under OB number 146/10/7/18 but the investigating officer kept asking for a facilitation fee to speed up investigations. I later gave up and returned to Kirinyaga,” he said.

Efforts to contact Mr Bundi were futile. His contacts as received from the victims were out of service and others were not being picked.

Cash withdrawn immediately

However, an attempt to send Sh5 to one of Mr Bundi’s contact to get his Mpesa-registered name was successful. The amount was, however, withdrawn from his end as soon as it was received. A text message the Nation sent to this number thereafter requesting his response to the claims by the victims wasn’t responded to.

After placing a call and sending a text message to the lawyer on Tuesday, October 20, requesting his response to the claims by the victims, he called back but declined an interview on phone.

Mr Mariaria told this writer to meet him on Wednesday, October 21, in his office. The meeting was then pushed to Thursday when the lawyer denied claims of acting in collusion with Mr Bundi.

He explained that although he had drafted two agreements in the past for transactions in which the buyers never got the vehicles, he has never been involved in any deal with Mr Bundi.

Mr Mariaria added he could not recall parties to the transactions because he offers legal services to many people.

“People come to me after agreeing to sell and buy cars from each other and all I do is sign the agreement and witness the transaction,” added the lawyer.

Denies culpability

Asked whether he was concerned about his office being used to swindle Kenyans money, he responded he cannot stop people from flocking to his office in search of legal services.

“The only mistake I committed was receiving Florence’s money in my account. Otherwise, there are too many criminals in town and cars are being sold every day. The only thing I can do is to be careful next time,” the lawyer said.

Jiji, a subsidiary of Digital Spring Ventures, acquired OLX from five countries in its efforts to become the leading classified marketplace in the world by traffic.

The transactions made through the platform are virtual, which exposes it to abuse but to cushion its clients from theft, the website advises buyers to only make payments for items bought after successful delivery.

“Avoid anything that appears too good to be true, such as unrealistically low prices and promises of quick money,” further reads the disclaimer.

by nation.co.ke

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