Kitale man who got bride price refund spends night at JKIA over fake ticket to US

Mr Wilberforce Saenyi Murunga.

Mr Wilberforce Saenyi Murunga at the Kitale Law Courts on  December 21, 2021.

Photo credit: Gerald Bwisa | Nation Media Group

A 52-year-old man who was recently refunded his bride price by his in-laws after a successful court battle spent a night at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after it turned out that a tour agency had given him a fake ticket.

Detectives in Trans Nzoia County have arrested a 34-year-old woman who has been masquerading as a travel agent and operating a "fictitious tour and travel agency,’ who issued Mr Wilberforce Murunga the ticket.

It followed a complaint that was lodged by Mr Murunga, who was scheduled to travel back to the United States on May 26.

He was, however, shocked to find he had been issued with a fake ticket when he arrived at JKIA on Thursday night.

"I did not realise I was a victim of fraud until I got to the airport. You can imagine going to JKIA with all your luggage, going through the process and then getting to the check-in counter and realising the ticket does not even exist," lamented Mr Murunga. 

The suspect was arraigned before the Kitale court on Monday and charged with obtaining money by false pretence, as four other victims of the con surfaced.

She was released on a cash bail of Sh41, 000, with police saying she was assisting in investigations.

According to Mr Murunga, while in Kitale attending to the bride price refund case in court, he met a friend who introduced him to a tour and travel agency in Kitale town, since he intended to travel back to the US where he lives.

He told the Nation that he walked into the tour firm’s offices in Kitale town and met the woman owner. 

"I paid Sh76,000 for a return ticket on the Qatar airline to America. I was issued with an electronically generated ticket. Little did I know she was a con-woman," he said.

Previously, he had been booking his airline tickets himself without going through travel agents, he said. 

The air ticket shown to the Nation indicated that Mr Murunga was to board Qatar Airways QR 1336 on May 26 at 18.10 and arrive at Doha at 23.25. He was to board another flight -Qatar Airways QR 709 at 01.30 and arrive at Dallas 09.10. 

At the airport, Mr Murunga had to contend with the chilly night cold after as it dawned on him that he had been conned.

"I was advised to travel back to Kitale where the offence happened and report to the police," he said. 

He arrived in Kitale on Saturday morning, May 28, and reported the matter to Kitale police station. Immediately, detectives arrested the woman. 

Trans Nzoia County Criminal Investigations Officer Francis Kihara confirmed the arrest to Nation. He said the suspect was on Monday charged in court with obtaining money by false pretence.

Detectives have sought more time for investigations as four more victims who fell prey to the scam surfaced. 

"We have asked the court to give us more time to carry out investigations. So far, four more individuals have come to the station, claiming that they had been also conned by the same woman," he said. 

Mr Murunga hopes to travel to the US despite the hiccup. 

He hit the headlines after he moved to court, seeking a refund of the bride price he paid after his marriage broke down.

When he got married on April 27, 2019 in Bungoma, Mr Murunga paid Sh50,000, three Ayrshire heifers, one cross Ayrshire bullock, one she-goat, one pair of gumboots and a hat, as bride price.

Two weeks ago, he was granted his wish by a mediation court in Kitale, which saw him receive three cows, a she-goat and Sh20,000 as refund from his in-laws.

In an undersigned parties’ agreement, however, Mr Murunga forfeited one cow and the cash as a token of appreciation to his in-laws. He said his in-laws were unable to provide all the animals and money due to the harsh economic times.

"Now we are officially not husband and wife anymore. She is free to move on and same to me, since the bride price has been refunded," he said.

Mr Murunga divorced Ms Irine Khasoa on grounds that she had deserted their matrimonial home. The marriage was dissolved on October 12, 2021 by a Kitale court.

In court documents filed on December 6, 2021, when he started pursuing the refund, he said he had lived with his ex-wife for about one year and six months when she started leaving their matrimonial home, doing so on several occasions.

On April 14, 2022, Chief Magistrate Julius Ng’arng'ar referred the case to mediation, resulting in its successful conclusion.