On June 12, 2021, Ms Jane Gatwiri prepared a sumptuous meal for her son, Mr Mwenda Mbijiwe, and waited for him.
But she started getting worried when by 11pm he was nowhere to be seen.
Little did the mother of four know she would not set eyes on her first born son again, with the day marking the beginning of a nightmare she is yet to wake up from, a year later.
Mr Mbijiwe, a security consultant, has been missing since then. On the following day, a car he had hired for three weeks for business was discovered on a coffee plantation near Tatu City, Kiambu County.
For Ms Gatwiri, the last year has been filled with trepidation, suspense, worry and frustration: Where is her son?
“On the day my son disappeared he had asked me to prepare mukimo, his favourite dish. It was not his habit to fail to come back home after he alerted me but on this day he never showed up. It has been hell for me since then,” she said.
In the recent past, there have been disappearances of persons whose bodies are later found dumped in rivers and thickets. But for Ms Gatwiri, her motherly instincts say that her son is still alive.
Ms Daisy Karwitha, Mr Mbijiwe’s sister, says she has accompanied her mother to Nairobi on several occasions since she has been travelling to the city every month to follow up on the matter, adding that the government should listen to their cries.
During one of her visits to Nairobi’s Central Police Station where they reported the matter, Ms Gatwiri says she stormed the office of detectives to enquire about the whereabouts of her son.
And it is what she heard the officers say that gives her hope Mr Mbijiwe is alive.
“An officer told me that they were carrying out some investigations on Mwenda. I heard one of them say, 'investigate his accounts'. Were they investigating bank accounts of a dead person?" she poses.
Used to cry day and night
“I know my son is alive and every time I hear a vehicle outside my gates I always think they have brought him home," she says, tears welling in her eyes. “When he disappeared I used to cry day and night. But now only drops appear in my eyes as my heart bleeds.”
Speaking to the press on Sunday at her home in Sirimon, Buuri West, Meru County when the family held prayers to mark a year since Mr Mbijiwe went missing, Ms Gatwiri appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the matter.
“My only hope now is the President. I call on him to come to the aid of a crying mother, a mother who is tormented by the loss of her son. Where is Mwenda? I want them to bring back my son because they know where he is. I know Uhuru knows him because they used to meet regularly. To mark one year since he disappeared I posted on Facebook a photo he took with the President,” she says.
She said since her son disappeared, people have been avoiding her, with politicians who were her friends refusing to pick up her calls. Only area MP, Mr Mugambi Rindikiri, visited to assure her that investigations were ongoing to unravel the mystery behind her son’s disappearance.
“I campaigned for Uhuru in 2013 and 2017 and he also knows me. There is no office I have not visited but when I go to State House seeking audience with him, they chase us away saying we need to first undergo Covid-19 tests,” she says.
Ms Gatwiri said her other son, Mr Nicholas Bundi, walked from Meru to DCI George Kinoti’s office to press for investigations to be hastened after which empty promises were made.
“When Bundi realised that this matter was taking a toll on my health he walked to Nairobi but nothing came out of the desperate move. But I know God is with Mwenda wherever he is…”
She expressed frustration at investigations that were carried out, saying they questioned why the owner of the car Mr Mbijiwe had hired was allowed to repossess the vehicle yet investigations had not been completed.
“We are disturbed since the same people carrying out the investigations are the same people who recovered the vehicle. The DCI officer was not even asked to record a statement yet police keep telling us that they are busy pursuing the matter,” she said in an earlier interview.
Mr Stephen Nkonge, Mr Mbijiwe’s step-father, also accused the police of reluctance to resolve the issue saying the family was convinced since their son was a security expert, he was always alert.
The security expert was raised in Kimbo village, Kibirichia, and was a popular commentator on security matters.