On a normal day, you are likely to see bosom buddies Gerald Murimi, Dennis Mutegi and Fredrick Kaigongi walking briskly around their home in Antubociu village, Igembe South, Meru County.
The youths, aged 15, 18 and 21 respectively, are skilled miraa pickers who gracefully climb the delicate trees without breaking the fragile stems as they reach the precious branches.
But when I met them at the Maua police station on Thursday when they had gone to record their statements, the usually jovial youngsters wore grimaces and walked with difficulty.
They are still recovering from a heart-wrenching day-long torture ordeal allegedly perpetrated by a chief, her assistant and more than a dozen Nyumba Kumi officials on May 23.
Another young man, Eric Muriira, 26, did not survive the ordeal as Antubociu chief Stella Karuma and her team allegedly forced him to confess to the alleged theft of her goat.
His killers then secretly dumped his body in a ditch in Karama, about 10 kilometres from the chief's camp, the alleged scene of the crime.
The survivors gave harrowing accounts of their ordeal, allegedly at the hands of Ms Karuma, deputy chief Benson Mwiti, and known officials of Nyumba Kumi, the grassroots community policing initiative.
Mutegi said the perpetrators first stripped them of their trousers and shirts, tied their hands at the back and placed a stick between their elbows.
The torturers then unleashed terror on them, beating them with truncheons, wooden planks, whips and the flat side of a machete.
"The chief is the one who used the panga (machete). She wanted to know if we were the ones who were in her compound the night before, trying to steal goats, and we told her that we were not.
"After a while she said that if we confessed, they would let us go, but they did not stop. We were afraid of dying and decided to confess to the false accusations," said Mutegi.
He explained that Kaigongi was the first to be arrested at dawn, followed by Murimi at around 7am, before Muriira joined them later in the kangaroo court.
"They would arrest one person and then ask us to name an accomplice. We named friends so they would stop beating us. We even confessed to stealing three goats so that they would leave us alone," Mutegi said.
Their ordeal only ended around 6.30pm when Muriira collapsed and became unresponsive and the attackers quickly kicked the three youths out.
The youths said that during the torture session, they were beaten on beating the joints, the back, fingers and toes, although he also hit the face and head.
They said they were lucky to have survived the torture.
"After we were released, I could not walk for some time and I still have difficulty standing or walking for long periods. I had severe headaches and backaches," said Murimi.
Former government pathologist Moses Njue, who works with the Independent Medico Legal Unit, explained that Muriira died from extensive internal bleeding in the muscles and under the skin.
He noted that the victim was expertly beaten on the lower and upper limbs with crude weapons and died in excruciating pain after losing a lot of blood.
"Sometimes the people who do this know what they are trying to hide, so they know where to hit and where not to hit. That is enough to kill anyone, even an elephant.
"The sequence of events is that once you lose that amount of blood, you go into shock because you have no blood in your body. The cause of death is extensive bleeding into the skin and muscles as a result of blunt force trauma," he said.
The incident caused an uproar in the close-knit village, with the public demonstrating at the local detectives’ offices in Maua.
Police arrested Ms Karuma and Mr Mwiti and they are being held at Maua police station awaiting formal charges on June 12.
A large crowd also jammed the Maua Chief Magistrate's Court where the two were taken by the detectives to seek an extension of time to investigate the suspects.
This week, residents stopped Muriira's funeral, which was scheduled for Wednesday, demanding that the Nyumba Kumi elders be arrested.
They claimed the elders are trying to use their influence to subvert the course of justice.