Human Rights lawyer Willie Kimani, His client Josephat Mwenda(a boda boda rider) and their Taxi driver Joseph Muiruri met their brutal deaths on June 23, 2016 before their bodies were dumped at Ol Donyo Sabuk River by their murderers who happened to be police officers based at Syokimau police station.
The police officers namely; Sgt Fredrick ole Leliman, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku alongside Peter Ngugi, who worked with the police in assassinating the trio, were all found guilty of the murder offenses in a ruling by Judge Jessie Lessit on July 22, putting to an end the 6-year long wait for justice by the families of the deceased and other concerned Kenyans.
Leliman was the first accused person in the murder trial and was involved in a confrontation with Mwendwa which later resulted in the three deaths that have captured the nation’s attention since then.
The issue began in April 2015 as revealed in a court testimony by Leliman. According to an investigative piece by Allan Namu’s Africa Uncensored, this was just two months after Willie had landed a job at the International Justice Mission(IJM), an organization tasked with protecting the poor from violence.
Leliman said that he was ordered by his commanding officer to go to Syokimau where a group of about 40 men were playing cards and gambling. He was in the company of Corporal Jane Ngige and a few other officers. The group however scattered at the site of the men in uniform.
In his testimony, Leliman further stated that while they were still at the scene, one man, who happened to be Mwenda, came back to pick up a blue motorcycle. Ngige ordered him to stop but instead the man approached them with a pen knife forcing Leliman to shoot him on his hand. He then took the suspect to a private hospital in Mlolongo for first aid and was later booked at the station for being in possession of Marijuana and resisting arrest.
Leliman’s testimony however sharply contradicted that of Mwenda. Rebecca, Mwenda’s wife told Uncensored Africa his side of the story
“He told me that he had gone to pick his motorbike from a person who had hired it. They were to meet in Katani at his cousin’s place. That is when he met with some people who arrested him. One of them was a police officer who shot him as he struggled with them,” Rebecca narrated.
Following the injury that made him unable to work, Mwenda decided to pursue the case by hiring a private lawyer before turning to IJM for help. That is how his case landed at Willie and his friend Edward Mbanya’s desk.
Mbanya noted that indeed the police officers rushed Mwenda to a private hospital to avoid any legal issues that would have arisen later, if he had been taken to a public hospital.
“When we did our investigations we found that he had been charged in court. Prior to being charged he had been kept in the cell after he was taken to hospital for first aid where they referred him to a national hospital because the injury was serious. The bullet had passed through his arm and he was bleeding profusely,” Mbanya recalled.
The matter was taken to court and the two lawyers proved that Lelilaman had given false testimony. It was also established that he did not use a police firearm on the day he shot Mwenda. He used his personal firearm that had not been registered either. Leliman’s lies were unraveled thus proving Mwenda’s innocence.
The lawyers helped the victim report the case to IPOA, which was done on June 15, 2015 and tables were now turning on Leliman with the lawyers hoping that the mission had been accomplished and the matter was coming to an end.
In December the same year, they however came to learn that Mwenda had been arrested by Leliman again and was charged with about six counts of questionable charges including riding a motorcycle without a license and helmet.
Willie Kimani and his friend did not give up and they defended Mwenda, and every time they got ahead of Leliman. In 2016, before the lives of the three victims were cut short, they had sought for Mwenda’s witness protection because of the continuous threats he received from Leliman. The protection did not come to pass since they went missing before their bodies were found in the river in early July, 2016.
However before their deaths, IJM had relocated Mwenda, his wife and their daughter with only Willie and Muiruri being authorized to visit and take him to court.
Rebecca also said that they had been advised to relocated from Mlolongo because Leliman was not a good person and he had killed people,” Rebecca said.
Leliman and his accomplices however cornered them after the June 23rd 2016 court session around the afternoon. They abducted and tortured them to death thus silencing them forever.