Man who confessed to killing Embu Catholic secretary jailed for 15 years

 Josephine Karimi, 24, who was found dead in a pit latrine at the Catholic Women Association (CWA) centre in Kiaragana, Embu.

Photo credit: Courtesy

A man accused of the gruesome murder of a Catholic Church secretary has been jailed for 15 years by the Embu High Court.

Boniface Yakulula, 26, was convicted on his own plea of guilty and sent to prison to begin his long jail term.

The time spent in custody was taken into account in the sentencing.

A man, Bonface Yakulula, 26, accused of murdering a Catholic Church secretary, Josephine Karimi, 28, is escorted to court after being sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Embu High Court after pleading guilty to murder.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

He was charged with murdering Josephine Karimi, 28, who worked as a secretary at St Mary's Catholic Women Association (CWA) and dumping her body in a disused pit latrine at Kiaragana sublocation in Embu County on June 29, 2023.

Passing sentence, Justice Lucy Njuguna noted that the accused was a first offender and an orphan whose parents died when he was just five years old. He was raised by his grandfather.

She also took into account the probation officer's report that the offender was married, the father of a three-year-old child and the sole breadwinner for his family.

She also noted that Yakulula was remorseful.

However, the judge noted that an innocent life was lost under unclear circumstances as the nature of the murder remains unknown.

Justice Njuguna said that Karimi's death was gruesome and that she did not deserve to die the way she did.

The judge said that her parents were very bitter and could not forgive the accused, who was a casual labourer.

"Pain could clearly be seen in their faces. I therefore find that a deterrent sentence is the most appropriate in the circumstances of this case. I, therefore, sentence the accused person to serve 15 years' imprisonment," she said.


Mourners carrying a coffin containing the remains of the slain Catholic secretary. Josephine Karimi was buried at Mbukori village in Embu County

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

According to the probation report presented to the court, Yakulula had been brought up in a deplorable condition from a young age.

Die by suicide

The report explained how Yakulula even tried to to die by suicide in a forest when he was in primary school, but was rescued and taken to hospital.

When he was in Form One, he dropped out of school in the second term when he pushed his classmate over a balcony and he rolled down the stairs.

According to the probation officer, he started behaving badly after his parents died.

The probation report said Yakulula's family was afraid he would return to the community unless he was cleansed through cultural rituals because they believed he was bewitched.

The family said Yakulula suffered from some of the traits his late father used to have and therefore needed to be cleansed before he could be accepted by the community.

The report presented to the court said the perpetrator, who is from Western Kenya and had been working in Embu to earn a living, was likely suffering from depression and needed specialised treatment.

The judge said that while no punishment would ever bring Karimi back to life, the jail term would deter him from doing the same to another family.

Karimi was a girl with dreams and aspirations, whose life was cut short in her prime and in such a horrific way.

On June 29, Karimi, who worked with the Catholic Church, disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Five days later she was found brutally murdered and dumped in a disused pit latrine, leaving her family and friends in shock.
Before her disappearance, Karimi, from Kivwe village, was based at the CWA centre where she worked.

Their daughter disappeared

According to the family, their daughter disappeared on a Wednesday.

After learning of her disappearance, the family called Karimi on her mobile phone the next day, but it had been switched off.

Moments later, they received information from a Catholic priest who told them that she was not at the centre and that no one had any idea of her whereabouts.

"Before Karimi went missing, she had lunch with her mother and went back to work on Wednesday, but the next day we called to check on her, but her phone did not go through and we sensed that something was wrong. Then a priest called and told us that Karimi hadn't reported for work on Thursday, so I rushed to the centre and found that my daughter was not in her office, which was locked," said Mr Simon Kivuti Gatumu, Karimi's father.

Shocked, the family searched everywhere for their daughter, but to no avail.

They even announced her disappearance in various churches in the area and on social media, but no one had any information about her whereabouts.

Her father an employee of the Kenya National Library Services based in Embu, reported the matter to Runyejes Police Station and recorded a statement after efforts to locate his daughter proved futile.

Detectives there promised to investigate the matter thoroughly to find out what happened to the secretary and told Mr Gatumu to go back home.

Mr Gatumu lamented that his daughter was working alone in a remote place without security.

"My daughter was working alone in that office and there were no security guards to watch over her, if there were guards at the centre or more people working there my daughter would not have been murdered, we are still coming to terms with the death of our daughter," said Mr Gatumu.

Centre was not safe for a woman

He said the centre was not safe for a woman to work alone and urged the church to consider employing more workers there and increase security.

When Mr Gatumu returned to Runyejes police station to check on progress, the detectives asked him to accompany them to the centre and he agreed.

On arrival at the centre, the detectives picked up a casual worker who was also a church worker and questioned him for hours.

During the interrogation, Yakulula, whose job was to clear bushes and do other manual work at the centre, revealed that he knew where Karimi was and that she was safe.

"The casual labourer told the detectives that Karimi was fine, but unfortunately she was not," Mr Gatumu recalled.

The casual labourer took the detectives to the pit latrine and when they peered through, they saw the woman's lifeless body and immediately took him to the police station for further questioning and later charged him with murder.

An autopsy revealed that Karimi's hand and breastbone were broken, a clear indication that she had been brutally murdered.