Phoebe Muthoni has witnessed the abduction of her husband and his two cousins in a span of two days. Two vehicles were hijacked on Sunday and Wednesday along the Nyeri-Nayhururu highway. In the two incidents, three men were taken at gunpoint. She was in both cars in the two instances. What seemed to be a normal Sunday outing with family drastically turned into a nightmare for a week. Her husband Isaac Mwangi, 34, and his two cousins Samuel Ngacha and Bernard Wanjohi, 40, are among five people who have been abducted in Nyeri and Nyandarua counties in six days. Ms Muthoni spoke to the Sunday Nation at her home in Solio Village Three.
I am still shaken and I have no idea why my husband and his cousins were taken. My daughter keeps asking me if we have found her father. I have to tell her we will find him tomorrow even though I have no clue when he is coming home. I miss my husband so much. I want to see my husband. I just want him to come back to us.
On Sunday, we had planned to travel to Nyahururu as a family. We left at 2.45pm. My husband was driving and our daughter was seated on the front passenger seat while I sat at the back.
When we reached Kianugu area just before Gwa Kung’u, I noticed a Subaru Forester on the right side appearing to overtake us. Then I noticed the occupants waving at my husband to slow down. I initially thought they were signalling him there was an oncoming vehicle on the right lane. But then they stopped right in front of us and forced my husband to stop.
He parked on the side of the road behind them and exited the car. Three men came out of the Subaru and grabbed my husband by his arm. They greeted him then took him to the back of the car. I could see them chatting from the rear view mirror but I could not hear what they were talking about. My husband then came back to the car after about two minutes and took his wallet. They took it and I could see them checking his identification details.
One of the men then came to the car on the passenger side and asked my daughter to hand him her father’s phone which was charging. He also asked for my daughter’s phone which she had been playing games on. He asked for my phone too, which I handed over.
Mwangi is usually very social and from the body language it appeared to be a very casual conversation between them. So initially I did not think anything was wrong.
Another man came to the car and started questioning me. He asked for my name and how I am related to Mwangi. Then he asked what my husband does for a living. I told him that Mwangi runs three businesses; an electronic shop, a bar and restaurant and a public address system for hire in Naromoru. He insisted on knowing if I know of any other business dealings Mwangi might be involved in.
A third man then came and asked me if I can drive and I said no. He asked Mwangi if the car has a cut-out system to which he said no. When he got into the car, I became anxious and tried to get out. The man who was holding Mwangi said they would take him into their car to continue negotiating.
They took him into the Subaru, which had number plates (VT 00L) that I later came to learn were fake.
We then took off with one of the men behind the wheel. The Subaru followed us towards Gwa Kung’u. After driving for a few kilometres the man parked the car and stepped out, taking the car keys with him. I thought they were going to switch places with Mwangi. But then they sped off.
I tried to get a boda boda rider to help me chase the car but he told me that they were driving too fast and there is no way we could catch them.
I borrowed a phone from a bystander and tried calling my phone. It had been switched off. Mwangi’s and my daughter’s phones were also switched off. I then called Mwangi’s cousin, Sammy and explained what had happened.
I was advised to report the matter to the area chief who came to the scene and then called police. We were then driven to Gwa Kung’u Police Station. They advised us not to touch the vehicle and report to the DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations) so they can come and gather forensic evidence from the car.
After reporting to the DCI, they tried locating our phones but they were unsuccessful. We decided to go back home and let police investigate the matter. On our way back we went to where my husband’s bar is located in Naromoru. I planned to contact Mwangi’s guard, Wilson Mwangi, who also has a boda boda business, to take me home.
To my shock, I was told he had been abducted by three unknown men at around 7:30pm. At that point, I knew something was wrong. But then we decided to go home and rest.
On Monday morning, I got a call from the investigating officer in Ndaragwa who told me that my husband’s phone had been switched on at 6am and was traced to Kamukunji, Nyeri town. We travelled to Ndaragwa on Tuesday with the aim of pressuring the DCI to move faster and locate my husband. They advised us to be patient and allow them to collect fingerprints from the car. They also said that they would get data from the phones. I was also interrogated again.
At the time, we had travelled in a group of six, including Mwangi’s cousins Samuel and Bernard and two friends. On our way back, we were debating whether to go to Nyeri to try and see if he had been spotted at Kamukunji where his phone was last located. A final decision was made to go home first and wait. But at Solio junction, things took a turn for the worst.
As we slowed down, I saw a Toyota Probox block us from the driver’s side. The window of the Probox was lowered and I saw a gun muzzle. I then heard the gun being cocked. I just froze. I saw them open the driver’s door and he was taken. They opened the passenger side and asked the occupant to come out. They asked his name and then pushed him aside. They then opened the rear door and pulled out Bernard. They told the other two men that they have no problem with them and pushed them aside before they drove off in three vehicles.
It has been five days (seven today) and I have not heard from my husband. I have been pestering the police daily. I am just wondering, how long does this process take? My husband was taken by unknown people. That is a case of kidnapping, right? Isn’t it a priority?
By now they should at least be giving us some information. Even if it is the police who took my husband, they should say where they are being held and when they will be taken to court. And the reason I do not think it is an abduction is because I have not received any call or demand for ransom.
I just want my husband back.
By Nicholas Komu, Sunday Nation