No closure: Our son is still waiting for his father, says slain lawyer’s widow :: Kenya


Hannah Wanjiku Gitwiria,Widow of the late lawyer Willie Kimani Kinuthia, during an interview at the Standard’s offices in Nairobi.[Elvis Ogina.Standard] .

For the past two years, six-year-old Castrol Kinuthia routinely places his father’s sandals by the door in the evening, sits back on a couch and waits to see him walk in.

His mother Hannah Wanjiku is at pains to explain death to the six-year-old. This is further complicated by the intricacies of how Castrol’s father, human rights lawyer Willy Kimani, went missing only for his mutilated body to be found in a river.


Decomposing body found in house

Everyday Castrol goes to bed disappointed because his father never comes back home to put on the sandals so neatly laid out for him.

“Every evening, Castrol would bring his father’s sandals and place them at the entrance, that is how he used to receive his father when he was still here,” Ms Wanjiku says.

As the family marked two years since the death of a person Wanjiku refers to as their pillar, the 32-year-old widow admits that she would never fit in his shoes and therefore has to explain to their two sons that their father is dead.

“If only I knew how Kimani exactly died, it would be easier for me to tell his story to my children. I find it difficult to move on without that explanation,” she says tearfully.

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Wanjiku said it is difficult to cope with the situation especially with the on going case on Kimani’s murder but holds on to the good memories they shared.

“I met Kimani through his friend while I was conducting research in his village. We dated for two years then got married, but six years later, he was painfully snatched from us,” she says amid sobs.

“I have written many letters to him about what I feel. I also go for counseling at the International Justice Mission.”

Kimani, his client Josphat Mwenda and their driver Joseph Muiruri were abducted on June 23, 2016 shortly after leaving Mavoko court where they were pursuing a case against the police. Their mutilated bodies were recovered a week later in Oldonyo Sabuk River.


School teacher, wife killed in cold blood

A Government pathologist said the three were tortured before being killed and their bodies dumped in the river.

Human right lawyer Willy Kimani. Last month, court acquitted three suspects over his death. [File, Standard]

Sad emotions

A diver, John Mwaniki, who discovered the bodies said they were tied at their waists, and heads were wrapped with plastic bags.

“The bodies had started decomposing and blood oozed from their mouths and nostrils,” Mr Mwaniki testified in court.

Muiruri’s family has gone through anguish after they lost their brother. “Our father died in 2005 when Joseph was only 11 and as an elder sister, I took him in and stayed with him until he was old enough to fend for himself,” says Grace Muiruri, the victim’s sister.

His death tightened the bond of his 10 siblings who nowadays meet regularly.

“We are always having family get-togethers to keep us close. The last time we were with Joseph was in December 2015 when he was teaching us a new dancing style,” she says.


Couple acquitted of murder

Grace says the family is yet to come to terms with his death and the mention of their last born brother brings back sad emotions. “The case keeps dragging and seeing the suspects in court is very depressing. Even in my dreams, I still see him,” she says.

Even though their counselor noted improvement since the incident, she said that end of the case would speed up the healing for families.  

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