Police arrest Kitui chief accused of killing his farm hand

Billy Muthui Musembi

Kavuta Location Chief Billy Muthui Musembi.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Witnesses say his hands were tied as he was tortured using sticks and other blunt objects until he passed out. 
  • At the bursary award baraza, the chief allegedly kept his mobile phone off.

Police in Kitui have arrested the chief of Kavuta Location in Kitui Central and his son in connection with the alleged gruesome murder of their former farm hand.

Chief Billy Muthui Musembi was nabbed over the weekend and detained at Itoleka Police Station in Katulani sub-County after months of playing hide and seek with investigators.

Musembi and his son, Thomas Jefferson Muthui, allegedly beat their former farm hand, Peter Musee Musomba, to death at the family homestead in broad daylight on December 19 last year.

Following the incident, the administrator reportedly applied for a 45-day leave, went into hiding and switched off his mobile phone until he returned to work last month.

According to detectives investigating the murder, the farm worker had gone to collect his wages when the administrator and other family members accused him of stealing maize from their store.

On the day of the incident, the chief was scheduled to host Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu for a public baraza at his office in Kavuta Market, Changwithya West Ward, where school bursaries were issued to needy students in the area.

"The altercation with his former shamba boy happened before the MP's public baraza started and was witnessed by several neighbours and passers-by," said a police source privy to the investigation.

Bound and tortured

Witnesses say his hands were tied as he was tortured using sticks and other blunt objects until he passed out. But despite the brutal punishment, the allegations of stealing levelled against him were never reported to the police.

After the beating, the chief reportedly instructed his son to ferry the victim, who was still alive, from the homestead to the Mangina - Kwa Mukasa murram road a short distance away.

The farm hand never regained consciousness and succumbed to injuries in the same afternoon.

At the bursary award baraza, the chief allegedly kept his mobile phone off.

"First responders to the scene tried to reach the chief to alert him of the discovery of a dead man in his area of jurisdiction but his phone was switched off. They dispatched a boda boda operator to physically deliver the message to him at the meeting," narrated a police officer who did not want to go on record because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Kitui County Director of Criminal Investigations Engineer Samuel Bett confirmed the chief's arrest. He said the administrator would be arraigned to face murder charges.

 Mobile phone data from Safaricom, which placed both suspects at the scene of crime, is among the pieces of evidence to be used in court.

Chief’s letter to DPP

Interestingly, while still in hiding, Musembi wrote a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to complain that detectives investigating the murder case at Itoleka Police Station had conspired to fix him.

This was after Kitui County head of public prosecutions Paul William Ochieng’ recommended that murder charges be preferred against the chief and his son.

The administrator asked the Eastern Regional Public Prosecutor to review the police investigation file claiming he had nothing to do with the death as he was not at the scene of the murder.

However, the DPP’s office said the Chief,  being a government officer, is expected to be conversant with criminal justice processes and that by choosing to execute such a heinous act of murder, he should not go unpunished.

A post-mortem examination done at Kitui County Referral Hospital established that Musomba died of internal bleeding due to severe chest injuries. The report seen by the Nation further says that some of his teeth were missing.

Several people who witnessed the beatings are set to testify against the chief and his son.