The inquest into the mysterious death of Keroche Breweries heiress Tecra Wangari Muigai began Tuesday, with her mother revealing that she transferred millions of shillings into her boyfriend Omar Lali’s accounts.
Testifying before Senior Principal Magistrate Zainab Abdul on death that occurred last April, Ms Tabitha Karanja, who is Keroche’s chief executive, said she wants justice.
The Nation established that Tecra fell from the stairs at a private house in Shella on Lamu Island, where she was staying with her boyfriend.
Ms Karanja Tecra transferred millions of shillings to Mr Lali between September 2019 and March 2020 through M-Pesa and her accounts at Absa bank.
She said she found it strange that her daughter would pay bills for Mr Lali, then 50 years old, as she was the younger one in the relationship.
Ms Karanja further said that Tecra’s relationship with the family became frosty as they asked her to end her association with Mr Lali due to the big age difference.
In her statement to the police, she said the family disapproved of the relationship after Tecra, then 30 years old, sent them photographs of Mr Lali in November 2019.
“As a mother I was shocked when I saw the photographs. I attempted to talk to her on phone and since we could not agree, her father and I opted to visit her residence in Naivasha,” she said.
“It was a Monday. The guards manning the entrance denied us access to her compound. Later, she called and arranged a meeting at Lake Naivasha County Club.”
The CEO said her husband Joseph Muigai Karanja, Tecra’s uncle and her step brother attended the meeting and all expressed their disapproval.
“Our concerns was majorly based on the huge age difference between the two,” she said.
Ms Karanja said they were also concerned as she was housing Mr Lali, since the man, especially they expected that an older one would shoulder more responsibilities.
Ms Karanja and her husband visited Tecra in December 2019 after she had moved to Lamu saw Mr Lali for the first time.
“The purpose of our visit was to persuade her to return home,” the mother said.
Tecra, who was the strategy and innovation director at Keroche, told her parents she had identified an outlet for their business in Lamu and had acquired a boat for transporting their products from Mukowe mainland to Lamu island.
Ms Karanja said they also sent their eldest son, James, and his girlfriend Victoria to try to persuade Tecra to end the relationship but were still unsuccessful.
Ms Karanja’s testimony was corroborated by Tecra’s Personal Assistant Sarita Ikenye, who produced documents listing transactions to Mr Lali through M-Pesa and the bank account.
“Tecra used to direct me to send money to Mr Lali and her driver Mr Eric Cheruiyot,” she said.
Asked by prosecuting counsel Peter Muia whether she knew what the money sent to Mr Lali was for, Ms Ikenye said, “She did not tell me the reason for transmitting the huge sums of money to Mr Lali.”
The least amount Ms Ikenye sent to Mr Lali between September 16, 2019 and April 8, 2020 was Sh5,000. The amounts significantly increased to Sh45,000 on March 7, 2020.
The PA said she would sometimes send money to Mr Lali twice in a day.
Another witness, Peter Kariuki, who said he was a friend of the family, recounted a trip to the Mt Kenya region during which he said Mr Lali got agitated.
Mr Kariuki said Mr Lali would get uncomfortable whenever a stranger joined them. He said he met the couple about three or four times and that there was an argument every time.
The witness, who works at a restaurant in Naivasha, said Tecra was picked up for a trip to Mt Kenya region and proceeded to Meru National Park in October.
“We all stayed at a hotel. Omar was very agitated but they calmed him down and had fun,” he said.
The witness further said that a Mr Cheruiyot, Tecra’s driver, intervened on many occasions in disputes between the two.
“I left them there and proceeded to the venue. A few minutes later I saw Tecra and Omar in the company of Cheruiyot. It appeared things had cooled down but Omar isolated himself,” he said.
“Omar eventually came to our table and they had another argument. I am not sure whether it was a jealousy issue. It was the first time I saw Omar grab Roy, a friend. Tecra intervened.”
The following day, Mr Kariuki further said, he reached out to Tecra, who told him that they had been having many arguments.
“Most of the arguments were on why Omar was not listening to her or why he did not want anybody around her,” he said.
“She went on to tell me that a week or two before, they had been on a trip to Tanzania, where Omar got into a terrible argument with her brother that almost led into a fight. The working relationship with the driver changed. I would add that all her relationships and friends changed when he came into her life.”
Mr Lali skipped the inquest and was not represented at the hearing.
The hearing will continue on Wednesday.