Catherine Wairimu, 19, wonders how long her guilt will last after her only brother was killed by neighbours on March 14 after he tried to kill her.
“The fact that he tried to kill me was no justification for him to be killed. At least they should have waited for me to heal, to give reconciliation a chance, especially since this was my blood brother,” she says.
Wairimu says that even as a teenager she would have understood her brother’s murderous rage since she knew that he was struggling with drug addiction.
“My brother lived with a terrible drug addiction. He smoked bhang and used injectable opioids. I would pray for him and ask God to deliver him from this threatening lifestyle,” she says.
Her brother, Eric Kimani, was affected when their parents separated and growing up under their father’s care was challenging, Wairimu says.
“He dropped out of school at Form One and became a drug addict. Sometimes he would get remorseful and cry, regretting getting into drugs. As his only sister, five years younger than him, we would sometimes talk and I would urge him to stop wasting himself,” says Wairimu.
She says that since 2018, when Kimani got into drugs, he had gotten worse . In 2022, he started suffering from violent rages and suicidal thoughts.
“He would suddenly become violent and run amok, destroying furniture and plants in the compound. He would start swearing that he would commit murder and kill himself. But after some time he would regain his senses, go to sleep and wake up in a better state,” she said. Despite all this, Wairimu says she “loved him dearly as my only brother. I was his only sister. I felt sorry for him and God is my witness that I really wanted him to have a good end”.
According to Wairimu, March 14 was different because Kimani woke up unusually late.
“He was living in isolation. Because of his fits of rage, no family member wanted to check on him in his small hut. We all felt comfortable waiting for him in the compound. None of us had any idea how he raised money to support his drug-abusing lifestyle, nor did he receive any meals from our house, but there were rumours that he was involved in crime,” she says.
He wandered aimlessly around the compound with a “face that radiated trouble. He did not even acknowledge my greetings and I knew instinctively that this would be another day of enduring his violent tantrums. Little did I know that it would be the last day I would see him alive.”
Wairimu says trouble started at about 10.20 am when Kimani suddenly started shouting and cursing, adding that he was armed with a panga. Unlike other days, her brother hurled some unprintable insults at her.
He then lunged at her, panga raised, swearing that he would wipe out the whole family and kill himself. He said he was tired of living in a family that had no love and where everyone resented him.
“I was about to tell him that I personally loved him as my only brother, that even if everyone hated him, I would remain rooted in his corner with love and compassion when he reached me,” says Wairimu.
She says he struck her twice with the panga and she lost consciousness.
She woke up at Kiria-ini Mission Hospital in Mathioya with deep cuts on the left side of her neck and on her hands.
“When I regained consciousness, the doctors told me on a light note that it was my hands that saved my neck ... They said the damaging force aimed at my neck was absorbed by my hands, which I had instinctively thrown up to block the panga,” she says.
No one told her what happened after she lost consciousness. She was discharged from the hospital six days later.
“After my brother attacked me, other family members screamed and neighbours stormed our compound. I learnt that they caught my brother and killed him,” she says.
Wairimu adds that she felt a deep sense of remorse, in circumstances that had her as the main cause of her brother’s death.
“No matter what angle many tried to use to make me feel better, I knew that the root of the matter was that the neighbours murdered my brother in retaliation for him attacking me. They fought for me without consulting me. They did not have my blessing,” she says.
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She was even more shocked to learn that her brother’s body had been buried in a public cemetery because the family had disowned him.
“If you ask me today how many siblings I have, I would answer that I have a brother who was murdered by neighbours and I do not even know where he is buried,” she says. “I do not know where to take a flower to commemorate her brother.”
The incident put pressure on county security officials who were perceived to be entertaining mob killings. The then Murang’a County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo said investigations would be launched and all those involved in Kimani’s death would be apprehended.
“We cannot afford to allow this culture of people taking human lives to prevail in Murang’a. There is nothing called a mob attack in this death and those who led the manhunt and eventual killing will be apprehended,” said Mr Ngumo.
However, to this day, no one has been brought to book.
The Law Society of Kenya Murang’a branch says it was negligence on the part of the Mathioya Directorate of Criminal Investigations not to launch an investigation into the Killing.
“It was a glaring mistake for the DCI not to insist that a post-mortem be conducted on Mr Kimani’s body,” says branch chairperson Alex Ndegwa, adding that in such cases, a post-mortem and inquest report are mandatory.
“The death report must come from a post-mortem. This was not a sudden death. It is profiled as an express case of murder and the law expressly requires that all persons who commit the crime of murder must be arrested and prosecuted. They cannot be prosecuted in the absence of a post-mortem form stating the cause of death,” Mr Ndegwa says.
He adds that DCI’s behaviour was an indirect way of endorsing lynch mobs and that this is a recipe for anarchy.
Wairimu says she will work hard on personal healing and acceptance of circumstances as they are, and urges people to always be mindful of the choices it makes.
“Those who murdered my brother didn’t feel the pain of being attacked... I’m the one whose blood he spilled. The neighbours had no chance of dying from my brother’s attack. It was me he tried to kill. Today, it is not they who feel the sense of losing a blood brother, it is me. It is my mother who feels the pain of her only son being murdered and pity for me as her daughter being cut by the same son,” she says.
“My strong Christian faith will help me find a way to heal and move on. I will learn to live with the tragedy. It will make me stronger.”