I’m lucky to be alive: Targeted woman in Embu arson attack that left 7 dead speaks out

Arson target

The 25-year-old woman from Ngimari village, Embu County. She was targeted in an arson attack that left 7 members of a family dead.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

A 25-year-old woman from Ngimari village, Embu County, is still in shock after an attempt on her life allegedly by her estranged husband. Had everything gone according to the assailant’s plan, she would not be alive today.

Mr Boaz Wanjala, her husband of six years, had allegedly planned to execute her for deserting him only to miss the target and kill seven innocent members of a family.

She met Mr Wanjala in Nairobi in 2015.

Their intimacy grew stronger and they got married in the same year before relocating to her husband’s rural home in Kakamega County.   

They were blessed with two daughters now aged four and seven years.

However, a few years later, she says their relationship became sour and her husband accused her of infidelity and began battering her.    

"My husband beat me every time I told him to stop dating other women. I fled my matrimonial home in 2021 and returned to my parents' home in Embu," she said.

While at her parents’ home, she said, her husband visited and pleaded with her to return but she declined. It was then that Mr Wanjala lured her daughters and took them away.

"She told the children that he wanted to buy them sweets and milk at Runyenjes town and that was the last time I saw them.

She said her estranged husband was unhappy when he learnt that she had another child with another man.

When Wanjala failed to convince me to take him back, he threatened to burn me and my mother alive," she said.

She said Mr Wanjala threatened to kill her via a text message sent on October 1, 2022.

The text message read; Nitakuchoma pamoja na mama yako (I will burn you and your mother). She reported the matter to Runyenjes Police Station and recorded a statement.

On October 2, he allegedly made good his threat but burned the wrong house.

Realising that he had got his target wrong, he sent another message to Wanja; "Kumbe huja kufa shetani hii (so you are still alive you Satan)."

It was then that she knew she was the target of the attack and reported the matter to the police.

"I escaped death by a whisker. It was a miracle from God. However, I empathised with relatives who lost their beloved ones in the attack," she said.

She said it was worrying that Wanjala travelled hundreds of kilometres from Kakamega to Embu to eliminate her.  

"I was shocked when I learnt that our neighbour and his family had died in an arson attack," he said.

Mr Wanjala has already been arrested and presented at Runyenjes Court.

He is being held at Itabua Police Station for 14 days as police complete their investigations.

This followed an application by the investigation officer Samuel Onyamasi who sought more time to enable the police to gather more information about the incident.

The suspect will be taken to the hospital for a mental assessment to ascertain if he can stand trial.  

Ms Wanja said, "I will be a key witness in the gruesome murders. I want to see to it that justice is done," she said. She appealed to the government to assist her to get back her children from Kakamega.

"Now that Wanjala has been arrested, I feel my children are not safe," she said.