What you need to know:
- Details about a past similar abduction and links to the illegal trade in game trophies have emerged.
- Documents acquired by the Nation show that Mr Guandaru was four years ago prosecuted for illegal possession of ivory and a gun.
At 5:30pm on Tuesday, a businessman was abducted in the full glare of the public in the heart of Nyeri town.
More than 24 hours later, the whereabouts of Gerald Guandaru, 45, remain unknown even as authorities choose the silent approach.
Mr Guandaru is said to have been grabbed by three men on Kanisa Road and bundled into a station wagon reportedly bearing parastatal plates.
As to who took him and why, that is a subject for speculation. But today details about a past similar abduction and links to the illegal trade in game trophies have emerged.
Documents acquired by the Nation show that Mr Guandaru was four years ago prosecuted for illegal possession of ivory and a gun. He was acquitted last year of both charges.
His arraignment at the Nyahururu Law Courts at the time came eight days after police at the Nyeri Central Police Station began investigating his alleged abduction.
The May 30, 2017 and June 29, 2021 abductions are identical and took place within a 100-metre radius on the same street in Nyeri.
Did his abduction and subsequent arrest by Kenya Wildlife Services officers four years ago have something to do with his recent disappearance?
His family has maintained that they have no clue as to who took him and why.
“We do not know who took him or why anybody would want to abduct him. We just want to know where he is and pray that he is safe,” his father Nderitu Guandaru told the Nation.
Gerald Guandaru operates a barbershop in Nyeri and runs a hotel and bar alongside his father.
The two business premises are located about 150 metres apart.
On Tuesday, Mr Guandaru parked his vehicle, a Toyota Premio (KBN 880G) outside a hotel in Nyeri, about 100 metres from his barbershop.
It has since emerged that another vehicle had been trailing him for the better part of the afternoon.
Around 5pm, a station wagon was parked behind his car, blocking him, and three men emerged. Mr Guandaru had been sitting in his car when the station wagon arrived.
Witnesses reported that the men tried to get him to open the door but he declined and they walked away calmly.
“A few minutes later he got out of his car and started walking in the direction of his barbershop. That is when the three men grabbed him and dragged him into their car,” said a witness, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Mr Guandaro tried to raise the alarm but bystanders just watched from a distance as his captors dragged him away and drove off. His screams, the glare of the public and surveillance cameras did not seem to bother the captors.
Police sources have revealed that his mobile phone was switched off soon after he was abducted.
His family quickly mobilised to start a search and reported the matter at the Nyeri Central Police Station, with the incident catching the attention of the Nyeri County Police Command.
Nevertheless, even after reviewing surveillance footage from premises on the street, police have found no leads on who took Mr Guandaro and where they took him.
The case has been taken up by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
“We have received the case and we are still looking for him. His phone has not been located yet,” Nyeri Central DCI boss John Gacheru said.
Today the Nation has learnt that Mr Guandaru had reportedly been abducted in a similar manner outside his barbershop in 2017.
Police records in our possession show that his family made a report at the Nyeri Central Police Station, claiming he had been abducted on May 30, 2017. The report was made on the same day at 7:55pm.
A day later, two Kenya Wildlife Service officers surrendered Mr Guandaru and another man identified as Gicobi Mwai to the Rumuruti Police Station in Laikipia County.
An Occurrence Book (OB) entry made at 2am on May 31, 2017 shows that the officers reported that they had arrested the duo for being in possession of two elephant tusks weighing 7.5kg and a 303 hunting rifle.
The KWS officers claimed that they had arrested the two after they were dropped off by a motorcycle at ADC Mutara in Laikipia.
The two would later be charged with being in possession of a wildlife trophy and an illegal firearm.
The contradiction on when and where Mr Guandaru was picked up played out during the trial, with the trial magistrate pointing out inconsistencies in the timelines given by the KWS officers.
The officers claimed in their testimonies that they had arrested them on May 31 but documents presented in court show they were arrested on May 30, the day Mr Guandaro was reported to have been abducted.
Senior Resident Magistrate Ocharo Momanyi also pointed out that the KWS officers contradicted themselves on the type of rifle that was allegedly seized from the duo.
One claimed it was a .458 Winchester magnum rifle, another officer and OB records said it was .303 rifle while another told the court it was a homemade gun.
“To say the least, the witnesses are confused all the way from this court to Timbuktu and back,” the magistrate said in his ruling.
The magistrate consequently acquitted the two on October 8, 2020, saying the evidence produced was insufficient for a conviction.
Even though the charges against Mr Guandaro were thrown out, there is suspicion that the links to the illegal game trophy trade and his previous abduction could be the reason behind his recent disappearance.