Who wanted retired Murang'a banker dead?

John Mwangi Oscar, who was attacked in his house.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri | Nation Media Group

John Mwangi Oscar, a retired banker, had finished watching the 1am world news on television and was praying to God to keep him in good health, unaware that a deadly attack was lurking in his compound.

Half an hour later, a lone assailant broke the glass and cut off the metal bars of his dining room window, plunged an axe into his head, stole two telephones and Sh200 and left through the same window.

Oscar, 74, described by his wife of 43 years, Grace Wairimu, as "a man and a half who sought peace and dialogue in his life", was never given a chance by the intruder. 

"He loved to pray alone on his knees. He had prayed for the health of the family, peace and prosperity... He came to bed with me around 1.30am... It was around 2am... We were both in our house in Gitumbi village when, while we were in bed, we heard a loud bang coming from the dining room. I asked him to go and check... I thought it was a wild cat on the prowl," said Wairimu.

She says her husband did not bother to turn on the light, but left the bed with a torch to light his way. 

"I only heard him scream twice and then a thudding sound followed... I got out of bed and was walking towards the dining room to see what was wrong when I was blocked by a silhouette in the prevailing darkness... I screamed twice and a heavy voice told me to be quiet," she says.

The voice belonged to a man... she adds, and he was holding a torch in his left hand and an axe in his right. 

Grace Wairimu shows reporters where the intruder gained entry in the house.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri | Nation Media Group

 "He demanded to know why I was screaming... I answered that it was because I was panicking but now I was silent... He pushed me back into our bedroom and demanded that I give him the phones in the house as well as money," she says.

Wairimu says she had Sh200, which she handed to the intruder, as well as her mobile phone and that of her husband, who was now moaning in the dining room.

"Within three minutes, the intruder was gone and I was left alone.

 "I tiptoed into the dining room, turned on the light and there he was...my husband lying in a pool of blood...I tried to lift him up and blood was gushing from his head...from the looks of it, his life was in grave danger," she says.

Confused, she says she screamed and ventured out to get help. She found that the floodlight pole in the compound had been switched off and none of the family's three dogs were anywhere in the compound.

 "I walked out screaming and neighbours came out of their houses and we went back into the house. My husband was still alive but unconscious. It wasn't until 4am that we managed to get transport to Murang'a Level Five Hospital," she said.

 At the hospital, Wairimu says, her husband underwent X-rays and the doctor said Oscar was seriously injured and needed specialised treatment.

 She adds that calls were made to the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital, where she claims she was told to deposit Sh350,000 to reserve a bed and for a doctor on call.

But doctors at the Murang'a hospital, after observing how Oscar responded to emergency resuscitation, advised her not to transfer him to the KU hospital.

Oscar breathed his last on that same day.

 According to Murang'a police boss Kainga Mathiu, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has since launched an investigation into the killing. 

 "We want to establish whether there were several attackers apart from the lone attacker reported. We want to ascertain if there was any other motive for the attack apart from the petty theft that was carried out," he said.

He said investigations were progressing well and the case would soon be solved and justice served.

Murang'a Senator Joe Nyutu said that "over the past three months, parts of the township have suffered similar attacks by a man described by eyewitnesses as stocky and moving around armed with an axe and petrol in a bottle".

Three days after Oscar was attacked, detectives found a bottle containing 0.25 litres of petrol rolled under a sofa in his house. 

Grace Wairimu displays a bottle containing petrol that was found under her sofa three days after the attack.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri | Nation Media Group

In previous attacks no lives were lost, if the attacker encountered resistance while breaking into the house, he would pour petrol into the house and threaten to set it on fire.

Nyutu said "the police have taken the residents to a circus where they have since announced the arrest of two suspects and paraded them as the attacker nicknamed Wagathanwa (Axe Man) but the attacks have now turned murderous".

 He said, "it is high time the police moved in and dealt with this menace once and for all as we cannot afford to go down this road of losing lives".

Nyutu further said: "We need to get to the bottom of this and guarantee the residents of the area that they are safe. We have witnessed a total breakdown of security in the area where more than 15 families, more than 10 businesses and scores of pedestrians have been attacked and the level of terror that has gripped the residents is not good for the government".

Wairimu said: "All I and my children want is for justice to be done... I have been widowed by a crime that took two cheap phones and Sh200... It is ridiculous to think that we have lost the life of our patriarch for such a price."