'I watched helplessly as my neighbours murdered my brother in cold blood'

Mr John Gitonga (left) and Peter Njoroge who died after being attacked by neighbours on claims that he had stolen a motorcycle.

Mr John Gitonga (left) and his brother Peter Njoroge who died after being attacked by neighbours on claims he had stolen a motorcycle.

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Courtesy

He watched in shock as incensed neighbours forced their way into the family house at Kinungi on the periphery of Naivasha town and killed his brother.

As if in a horror movie, the heavily armed villagers, seething with rage and unstoppable, descended on the home of the parents of John Gitonga, a boda boda operator, nearly a month ago. 

The villagers had accused Gitonga’s brother of stealing a motorbike and when they pounced on him armed with machete and rungus, the family could do little to save him.

Double tragedy

And it was a double tragedy for the family after their 17-year-old nephew died of “shock” moments after learning of his uncle’s death.

“We buried them in the same grave on February 22, 2023, in an emotional ceremony. 1 am still pained by the deaths,” says Gitonga.

“The boy had developed an inseparable bond with his uncle, having lived with him for one year,” adds Gitonga.

That day, Gitonga had decided to visit his parents’ home, about 15 kilometres from Naivasha town, to enjoy his usual tête-à-tête with his siblings. 

“I felt indebted, having spent close to two months without paying my siblings and parents a visit,” he remembers.

Gitonga arrived home on the night of February 11, 2023, at 8:40 pm and found his mother warming herself by the fire.
He was served dinner amid the usual casual talks as the visitor awaited the arrival of his father.

“I had a conversation with my mother until around 9:30 pm when my father arrived from his usual errands at Kinungi trading centre,” he continues.

The chats with his mother continued until around midnight when Gitonga decided to go to bed, feeling exhausted.
“My mother asked me to say a word of prayer, which I did, and asked God for the night's protection. Before the prayers, my mother had jokingly asked me why I wasn't feeling sleepy,” he recalls.

Soon after the prayer, Gitonga retired to his house and left his parents in the main house. But 20 minutes later, all hell broke loose.

The night silence was disrupted by panga-wielding neighbours who were accusing his brother of being behind the theft of a motorcycle.

“I was called back to the main house by my father after he spotted strangers outside our house who were armed. They were categorical that they wanted their motorcycle,” Gitonga continues.

Pleas fell on deaf ears

The family members' attempt to speak with the uncompromising neighbours fell on deaf ears. 

“They were targeting my brother and, when they spotted him seated in a corner, they viciously attacked him,” he says.

Gitonga and other family members tried to protect their sibling but they were overwhelmed by their crowd.

“My brother suffered serious head injuries after being clobbered several times and slashed on the head, he was bleeding profusely. We were helpless,” he adds.

The merciless neighbours, according to Gitonga, even wanted to set his brother on fire but then shelved the idea, enabling the victim to be taken to the Naivasha sub-county hospital where he breathed his last.

“They are people I am familiar with … my neighbours … people I trusted … but they killed my brother in cold blood as I watched,” says Gitonga.

“They were seven family members, and despite saying that a motorcycle was stolen, they did not table any proof. I offered to give them my motorcycle, but they refused,” he explains.

Gitonga, who is yet to recover from the traumatic event, reads an ulterior motive in the attack. “It is more than meets the eye,” he says.

He admits that there were no differences between his family and the neighbours who attacked his brother.

“Some of those who I witnessed participate in the attack schooled with me. Another one was my late brother's classmate, but on the day of the attack, they refused to listen to our plea … we begged them but they were cold,” says Gitonga.

His parents are overcome with grief, and now there is bad blood between the two families.

“There are a lot of whys. My parents are really suffering. I’m trying to comfort them, but it is hard," he says.

Naivasha sub county police commander Samuel Waweru said three people have been arrested in connection with the killing.

“We are still pursuing three others who escaped soon after the incident and we are following crucial leads,” said Mr Waweru.