Relatives of missing woman plead for divers to search dam

Esther Ruguru

Esther Ruguru, a 43-year-old hotelier who went missing in July. 

Photo credit: Pool

The family of Esther Ruguru, who got lost on July 1, 2023 in Murang’a, wants divers to be allowed to search for her body in Chinga Dam.

The family members want to finance their own divers to ascertain whether information that there is a body tied to a block of stone using barbed wire is true.

The Mathioya Sub County DCI officer, Murungi Muriithi, has however dismissed the request as one based on heresay. Chinga Dam is a secured area, that can only be accessed with authorisation from management of the dam or the police. 

Ruguru’s family spokesperson Leonald Mbogo told Nation that “there was an incident where divers were called in to retrieve two bodies of students who had drowned in Chinga dam on August 17, 2023”.

He said that “the divers reportedly said they had also encountered a female body dumped in the dam while tied to a block by use of barbed wire”. He said that this information was shared to them by a mortuary attendant in Othaya during their search for Ruguru.

On Wednesday, family members went to the DCI to place their request of financing their own divers to ascertain the truth, but they were turned down. David Kiai who was among the divers told Nation that “we were hired from Kiambu County and we were briefed that we were to retrieve only two male teenagers from the dam”. 

He said their pay only covered that job, adding that “some of my colleagues in our talks about the exercise reported seeing something that looked like a female body fully dressed tied to a rock by use of a wire”.

When Nation called Muriithi to confirm the claims, he said that “there are people misleading this family with false information”. He said that “the Chinga dam issue is irrelevant… All are free to do their part and we do ours since the most important thing is final results”.

Ruguru, 41, who was a hotel proprietor in Kiria-ini town, disappeared on July 1, 2023 reportedly as she waited for her boyfriend to pick her for a weekend outing. The man who was to pick her was found admitted in Kiria-ini mission hospital with assault injuries on his legs, back and genitals. 

Muriithi said “his statement indicated that he had an accident before he met Ruguru for the date”.

The family believes that hospitalisation of the man and the disappearance of Ruguru are related. “We have recorded a statement from the man and it is certain that he did not pick Ruguru as they had planned,” said Muriithi.

He added that Ruguru’s phone signal was switched off in Kiria-ini town and since then, there has been no more information on her whereabouts. Regarding progess of the investigations, Muriithi said, “We have a big file full of statements and reports and we are pressing on with investigations hoping to get a lead.”

Ruguru closed her hotel business at around 8pm on the day. Eyewitnesses say they last saw her walking towards a waiting car. She is also said to have ventured into the business of lending money.

Family members recorded a missing person report at Kiriaini police station reference (Occurrence Book) OB number 07/04/07/23.

The mother of three had been widowed eight years ago and was a businesswoman in the busy Kiria-ini town. Ruguru's eldest daughter, 21-year-old Carolyne Njoki, said her two siblings have greatly been affected by events surrounding the disappearance of their mother.

"My mother did not come home on July 1. We called her phone but it was not picked. I thought she was on her business. But now we are worried about whether we will ever find my mother," she said.