During their burial on Friday, slain brothers Emmanuel Mutura (19) and Benson Njiru (22) from Kianjokoma, Embu County were as close in death as they were in life.
They were given a heroic high-profile send-off by their relatives and residents of the sleepy Kithangari village, and buried in the same grave but with different coffins.
During the emotional ceremony, teas flowed freely as family members and political leaders mourned the two promising lives cut short.
Their deaths a week ago transformed them to VIPs as a convoy of vehicles escorted the cortege from Tenri Hospital mortuary in Embu town.
Most of the mourners from outside Embu, including MPs, arrived in fuel guzzlers, bringing business in the village to a standstill. Some of the mourners wore T-Shirts and carried banners saying “stop police executions.”
The two brothers died at the hands of police officers after they were arrested for violating the night-time curfew. Njiru, who was a student at Kabarak University, and Mutura were last seen on Sunday, August 1, around 10pm.
Their bodies were found at Embu General Hospital mortuary two days later.
The shocking find led to riots around the Kianjokoma trading centre, in which a police vehicle was torched by angry residents and another life lost in the demonstrations.
Apart from MPs led by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, a number of dignitaries, lawyers, human rights defenders and other leaders attended the brothers’ final farewell.
There were emotional scenes as the two coffins were lowered from different hearses and close family gathered to say goodbye.
Grief struck mourners as speakers told of the suffering the duo underwent following their torture. Post-mortem results had indicated that they succumbed to head and rib injuries inflicted with a blunt object.
The victims’ father, John Ndwiga, narrated how he learnt of his sons’ passing with great shock and vowed that he will not rest until the killers are exposed.
Their distraught mother, Catherine Wawira, did not address mourners. She could be seen breaking down from time to time as mourners spoke, and was consoled by close relatives who kept watch of her condition.
Mr Ndwiga said his sons were good people who did not deserve to die painfully and called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.
“We have lost everything. We are now crying for justice. We would like to know the officers who eliminated our sons and why. I have known no peace and those responsible for the death of my sons should not go unpunished,” he said.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has been roped in to crack the puzzle of those responsible for their deaths, alongside other ongoing probes by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of the National Police Service.
But in a report to their seniors on what happened, Manyatta OCS Adullahi Yaya and Embu North OCPD Emily Ngaruiya, who have since been transferred, insisted the two brothers had jumped out of a moving police car.
The brothers were on their way home after closing their pork butchery in town when they met with the police officers who were enforcing curfew rules. They were then bundled into a government vehicle, together with nine other suspects, and whisked off towards Manyatta police station.
Two days later they were found dead with serious injuries believed to have been inflicted by their attackers.
University students who spoke at the burial ceremony condemned the police killings of their friends.
Njiru, a student at Don Bosco Technology Training Institute in Nairobi, wanted to be an engineer while his younger blood brother, Mutura, was working hard to become a lawyer.
They were on a holiday break when they met their deaths.
“Our brothers were well behaved, hardworking and related well with everyone. During holiday, they used to babysit, pick coffee and tea and do their own business. We shall surely miss them,” a resident, Anne Nyaga, recollected.
Legislators who attended the burial condemned the government, accusing it of failing to act on the matter with the seriousness it deserves.
MPs Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Cecily Mbarire (nominated), Eric Muchangi (Runyenjes), John Muchiri (Manyatta) and Muriuki Njagagua (Mbeere North) said they were fed up and demanded the immediate resignation of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over police killings.
They gave the government a seven-day ultimatum to bring the culprits to book or else they face their wrath.
“If police officers who killed the brothers are not arrested and prosecuted we shall go back to the streets together with residents. We are ready to die while fighting for justice,” said Ms Mbarire.
The leaders also called for urgent reforms in the police service, saying the current force comprises rogue officers who don’t respect the sanctity of human life.
Speaker Muturi and Embu Deputy Governor David Kariuki accused the police of trying to cover up the crime to protect their colleagues.
“The vehicle which was used to transport the brothers was the same which was brought to the scene and torched by the mob. Police watched as the vehicle went up in flames and didn’t fire even a single shot to disperse the mob. They wanted to destroy the evidence,” said Speaker Muturi.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi said he learnt of the demise of the brothers with great shock. He threatened to mobilise lawyers to demonstrate if those culpable are not punished.
The boys’ family and leaders who attended the burial dismissed the police theory, insisting that the victims were brutally murdered and secretly taken to the mortuary to cover up the evidence.