Family of woman murdered by British soldier complains of inaction

Agnes Wanjiru.

Agnes Wanjiru, who was found dead in 2012 after she went missing.

Photo credit: Pool

The family of a woman who was reportedly killed by a British soldier in Nanyuki more than a decade ago, has decried the slow pace of investigations as the suspected murderer is still walking free.

Agnes Wanjiru, 21, allegedly died at the hands of soldiers in 2012 at Lions Court Hotel on the outskirts of Nanyuki town.

Her body was discovered inside a septic tank at the hotel two months later.

Wanjiru’s family claims British and Kenyan authorities have staged a cover-up to maintain diplomatic relations. 

The UK sends six infantry battalions a year for training at the Nanyuki army base. 

Quest for justice

The quest for justice gained momentum last year when protests rocked Nanyuki as residents led by Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi demanded the extradition of the suspects to Kenya for prosecution in local courts.

This prompted the British minister for Armed Forces James Heappey to visit Kenya in November. 

He said his government was willing to extradite the suspects implicated in Wanjiru’s murder.

But seven months later, little has been done, with the family saying they are yet to be addressed by any official from the British government.

Speaking at their home in Majengo Estate on Tuesday, family spokesperson John Muchiri accused the UK of playing politics.

“We learnt from the media that the minister visited Nanyuki and promised that he would meet us over the matter. We’ve not heard from him or any representative of the UK government,” Mr Muchiri told the Nation.

On Sunday, the British press reported that investigators have not interviewed key witnesses or arrested the alleged suspect.

Then head of the British army, General Mark Carleton-Smith, said in October he was “determined” to “establish the facts as quickly as possible.”

But Soldier X – who has been reportedly been named by fellow troops after he allegedly confessed to the killing – is said to be free and living in the south of England. 

Key witnesses

“Soldiers who took part in the drunken and debauched night of group sex with local prostitutes said they were shown her body that evening by her alleged killer, it has previously been reported,” wrote The Sunday Times.

“Key witnesses who were there on the night of Wanjiru’s death have not been spoken to by military police. There has also not been an investigation into eight service men – including Soldier X – the main suspect.”  

The soldiers attached to the British Unit Training camp in Kenya were on a binge with sex workers when Wanjiru met her death. Some of the soldiers at the party confessed they were shown Wanjiru’s body by a colleague.

Members of Soldier X’s regiment allege the name of her killer was an open secret, with five different soldiers identifying the same person.

An inquest was held in 2019 and a judge ruled that Wanjiru was “murdered by British soldiers”, but no subsequent action was taken by the army. Ms Rose Wanyua, Wanjiru’s sister, decried delays in prosecuting the suspects, saying her sister’s child, now 11, had come to learn how her mother met her death and was traumatised.

“The girl has been asking me why and how her mother was killed by a white man. She has learnt all this from the media and it is our desire the culprit be brought to book soonest,” she said.

She said she does not have a permanent job and she’s struggling to support the child’s education and upkeep.

 “There is a well-wisher who has been paying fees for her. But I have to take care of all the other basic needs. It would have been better if the British government had committed itself to supporting the child,” said Ms Wanyua.