Gang leader or innocent victim? Family queries police shooting of Meru trader Joseph Mwenda

Meru trader Joseph Mwenda who was shot dead in Nkubu town.

Meru trader Joseph Mwenda who was shot dead by police in Nkubu town.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Last Saturday night, businessman Joseph Mwenda went to have fun with his friends in Nkubu, Imenti South. He had just finished a good day at his electronics shop in Meru County's second-largest town.

According to relatives, Mwenda was in high spirits as he bought drinks for his three colleagues.

How he ended up dead in the early hours of Sunday after being shot by police has baffled the family, who accuse the security agents of foul play.

After the party at a club in Nkubu, Mwenda and his three colleagues drove to his house about two kilometres away.

According to his younger brother, James Mutugi, he had only moved into the new flat on Monday and was trying to settle down.

Sources have now confided in Nation.Africa details how Mwenda met his death.

Unbeknownst to the victim, while he was celebrating in town, a neighbour raised the alarm that there were thugs in the compound terrorising them, with Mwenda as the prime suspect.

The police were called and the tenants demanded a thorough search, which was carried out.

"After the four officers went from house to house searching, no criminal was found, so they left the premises. However, when they looked inside Mwenda's house, they saw several televisions, mattresses and dozens of pairs of shoes," said sources close to the investigation.

About 100 metres on their way back to the police station, the officers met Mwenda, who was driving home in his Toyota Premio with three of his colleagues, and stopped him.

"A scuffle ensued after the officers ordered them out of the vehicle. Mwenda denied stealing the two televisions and three music systems found in his vehicle. When the officers tried to handcuff him, he resisted," another source said.

Tried to stab one of the officers

"He pulled out a dagger and tried to stab one of the officers. When he realised they were not moved, he pulled out a toy gun. The police then opened fire and shot him dead on the spot," the source said, adding that it was later discovered that the weapon was a toy gun.

A Somali sword and a laptop computer were also found in the vehicle, police said. They claim that Mwenda was the leader of a gang that had recently been terrorising residents and warned that its members would be dealt with.

While Mwenda's body has been taken to Meru Level Five Hospital mortuary for a post-mortem, his three colleagues are in custody helping police with investigations.

The family now claims there was foul play in the killing, accusing police of planting a toy gun on him to justify the shooting. Mutugi said his brother was a victim of police brutality and called on the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) to investigate the incident.

My brother was not a criminal. He owned three electronics shops in Nkubu and we suspect the police killed him because of another case he had with some officers.

-Mutugi said in a telephone interview.

When contacted for comment, Imenti South OCPD Musa Abdiraman said an investigation had been launched to establish what happened. "We are investigating the matter; we cannot talk much about it now," he said, declining to give further information.