The past three weeks have created a dark cloud for the two Gusii counties—Kisii and Nyamira—after bizarre incidents in the community, one after the other, leaving many within and outside dumbfounded.
A guest in the agriculturally rich but densely populated region will be taken aback to think the gates of hell have been opened wide and the devil descended on the community where savage incidents have made headlines more than ever. As one Nation newspaper reader remarked, if these latest incidents are a reflection of the new normal, then the Gusii region has become the hotbed of strange acts that have left tongues wagging.
Disturbing cases, especially the gouging out of Baby Sagini’s eyes in Kisii, the savage killing of a primary school teacher in Nyamira, the biting off of a man’s genitals reportedly by his wife, to the killing of two babies allegedly by their father, have left Kenyans in shock.
Although Kisii has in the past had sporadic incidents of burning elderly men and women on claims that they are witches, defilement, murder and thuggery, the latest cases have happened close to each other and are horrific. Several other incidents, mostly murder and defilement, have occurred in the past three weeks in the region, but haven’t received as widespread media coverage as the other four.
On Friday, human rights activists staged a sensitisation walk and held a baraza in Marani, a place that has been marked by authorities as a crime hotspot in Kisii. It is from this area that Junior Sagini hails. It is also in this place that four women accused of practising witchcraft were lynched last year. Several suspects were arrested and the case is ongoing in court.
“We are now taking a different approach to these issues. Instead of condemning our people, we want to sensitise them that the law should be upheld at all times,” said Esnas Nyaramba, a rights activist. “If someone wrongs you, report the matter to the police and wait for the law to take its course. We are also starting counselling sessions for people with mental health issues. Together with other stakeholders, we plan to start barazas to discuss our issues.”
In Sagini’s case, three suspects were, on December 23, arraigned and charged with attempted murder in relation to the savage attack on the three-year-old boy.
Alex Ochogo (Sagini’s cousin), Pacifica Nyakerario (aunt) and Rael Nyakerario (grandmother) appeared in a Kisii law court, where they pleaded not guilty. They were remanded without bond or bail and will be held in Kisii prisons until the trial, which is scheduled to begin on January 18. At least six witnesses are expected to testify.
Sagini is currently under the care of children’s officers. Doctors, however, say he will not see again. Efforts by former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko and other well-wishers to fly him out of the country for specialised treatment hit a snag.
Lawyer George Morara, who is holding a brief for the three-year-old, asked the former governor to comply with the requirement of the law. The attack is believed to be connected to land disputes within the family, as Sagini was in the line of inheritance for his stepfather’s land, which may have caused tension within the family.
In another horrific incident that occurred this week, a father reportedly descended on his two children with a machete at Kiobegi in Nyamache, Kisii County. The bloodied bodies of the babies, aged 10 months and two-and-a-half years, were discovered in their parent’s maize plantation. They lay beside each other with visible deep cuts on their heads and necks.
Nyamache police boss Kepkemboi Kipkulei said they arrested the father of the two and would arraign him on Monday to answer murder charges.
“There are allegations that the father of the children had mental health issues and is being held as a suspect,” he said.
Neighbours said he had been hospitalised two months ago over mental health issues.
In another ghastly incident, a man whose genitals were bitten off and stabbed, allegedly by his wife, is recuperating at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.
His almost-falling manhood and hanging intestines were fixed by surgeons in many sessions. “I am still at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital and on a lot of drugs,” he said.
His wife was arraigned on Wednesday last week. She reportedly committed the offence on New Year's Eve. She pleaded not guilty and was released on a bond of Sh50,000, with a similar surety. The case will be mentioned on January 26.
In yet another case, detectives are hunting for a nurse, whom they treat as the main suspect in the murder of 47-year-old Ezekiel Gitangwa, a primary school head whose mutilated body was found in her house in Nyamira County.
Police in Nyamira on Friday arrested two people in relation to the heinous murder of a primary school teacher.
The two, a man and a woman, were later arraigned before Nyamira High Court as police sought to have them detained for 14 days, pending investigations.
Nyamira County Police Commander Mr James Mitugo said the suspects are from Nyamaiya centre, where a nurse who is at the centre of the incident hails from.
He said the two suspects are assisting them with investigations.
“The lady is an M-Pesa operator and the other is a young man whose phone was used to withdraw money. Money was sent to the deceased’s phone to the young man,” said Mr Mitugo.
He explained that instead of money being withdrawn through Mpesa, the female suspect told them that it was sent via an Equity Bank account.