Another murder trial for police officer in Willie Kimani case

Fredrick Leliman

Police officer Fredrick Leliman in a Nairobi Court on July 18, 2016 over the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Sergeant Fredrick Leliman and his boss then, Chief Inspector Stephen Lelei, will be charged with murdering Jacob Mwenda Mbai and Elizabeth Nduku in Mlolongo Township on May 27, 2016.
  • Ipoa has also forwarded files to the ODPP recommending the prosecution of six General Service Unit, GSU officers attached to the Majiwa camp, over the killing of one Mary Chepkorir Kiprotich.
  • The authority is also seeking to have two officers attached to North Horr in Marsabit County prosecuted over the death of one Ali Sora Bonaya who collapsed and died at home after an altercation at a local police station.

One of the police officers under trial for the murder of human rights Lawyer Willie Kimani will, together with his boss, be charged with the murder of two people in Machakos County in 2016.

Sergeant Fredrick Leliman and his boss then, Chief Inspector Stephen Lelei, will be charged with murdering Jacob Mwenda Mbai and Elizabeth Nduku in Mlolongo Township on May 27 that year.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa), which has been investigating the death of the two, said they were shot by police officers who later reported that they were responding to a planned robbery.

“Upon independent review of Ipoa's findings, the the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) wrote to the authority and gave the greenlight to charge the officers with murder,” Ipoa's Chairperson Anne Makori said in a Statement.

She added that the officers face an additional charge of unlawful use of firearm, contrary to Section 26 A (1) (a) of the Firearms Act.

Mr Leliman and his colleagues Leonard Mwangi, Sylvia Wanjiku and Stephen Cheburet were charged with killing Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, and dumping their bodies in Ol Donyo Sabuk in Athi River.

ALTERCATION

The family of the two people sought Ipoa's help, claiming Mr Leliman (whom they identified as Maasai) shot them after an altercation, and that the shooting had nothing to do with a robbery.

Jacob’s father, Cosmas Mbai, told NTV at their home in Mlolongo that they reported the shooting to police under OB number 34/28/5/2016 but had not received any redress.

Instead, the family said, they received several threats from the officer and his colleagues.

“It is difficult for me to get justice for my son because I am dealing with people who have power,” he said in Machakos, days after the burial of his son and the woman, who left behind three children.

Jacob's uncle said the 23-year-old was shot in Mlolongo by two police officers attached to Mlolongo Police Station, whom he identified as an OCS and one named Fredrick Leliman. 

He said that after Jacob closed his car wash shop in Athi River at 5pm on that day, he decided to visit his elder brother who lived in Mlolongo, but first went to have tea near Way Bridge Gardens.

He and other customers later heard gunshots so they stepped out to find out what was happening.

"They saw two police officers running after a young man who was running towards Mombasa Road. The police turned to the onlookers and started firing indiscriminately," the uncle said.

"As the crowd ran in different directions, Jacob was shot by a stray bullet while scampering for safety at the hotel. The bullet injured his lower diaphragm and the spine."

The uncle said the police officers then said that they had killed a suspected robber and that the crowd realised that a woman had also been shot.

He said the crowd became agitated, forcing other police officers to approach and fire tear gas at them.

"They demanded to know why the officers were shooting indiscriminately at them. The officers said a second thief had run in their direction and they were trying to catch him," he said.

ROBBERY CLAIM

Jacob's brother said police claimed there had been a robbery at Tango Club Bar but that the bar owner refuted this and has recorded a statement to that effect.  

He said Jacob and the woman were taken to Shalom Hospital by a good Samaritan and later to Machakos Hospital. 

The two officers reportedly followed the victims to Shalom, requested for X-rays and left after establishing that there were no bullets in their bodies.

The two were later transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, where Jacob died.

The woman showed improvements after a while but also died, Jacob's family said, and claimed police officers visited the hospital several times.

Jacob’s brother filed a complaint at Mlolongo Police Station, where an officer he identified only as Baraza told him the two officers in the shooting had recorded statements on an exchange of fire that had resulted in the deaths of two people.

He said he insisted on recording a statement on what he knew about the shooting but that the officer did not allow him to.

The brother said he consulted Jacob's boss who referred him to the DCIO. He was advised him to go to the DCI in Athi River, where he would be assisted in recording a statement. 

Jacob's family said police officers frequented the car wash and that Jacob was well known, having worked there for more than three months.

After the case was reported to Ipoa, Jacob's brother and his uncle recorded statements alongside two witnesses.

The post mortem was conducted in the presence of three Ipoa officers.

OTHER CASES

Ipoa said on Wednesday that it had also forwarded files to the ODPP recommending the prosecution of six General Service Unit, GSU officers attached to the Majiwa camp, over the killing of one Mary Chepkorir Kiprotich.

The six are Inspector Harrison Mwa, Corporal John Kimweli Musau, Constable Linus kipngetich Terer, Constable Joseph Mureithi, Constable David Kipkemoi and Constable Magdalene Nachapai.

They are accused of killing Chepkorir while conducting an operation against sale of illegal alcohol while in the company of the area chief.

The authority is also seeking to have two officers attached to North Horr in Marsabit County prosecuted over the death of one Ali Sora Bonaya who collapsed and died at home, two days after sustaining injuries during an altercation at the local police station.

Constable Bernard Gachau faces murder charges while his boss Sergeant James Mulwa will be charged with neglecting duty, contrary to Section 128 of the Penal Code.

The Ipoa said the ODPP was satisfied with the evidence it had received in all the cases and that it would sustain a trial in a court of law.

“Ipoa supports officers in maintaining law and order but will not hesitate to take action, in accordance with its mandate, on the few bad elements that break the same laws they are supposed to enforce,” Mrs Makori said in a statement.

CURFEW KILLINGS

The statement comes just a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Kenyan police for brutality during the curfew President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In its report, the international rights organisation said that so far, six people countrywide have been killed by police enforcing the curfew.

“It is shocking that people are losing their lives and livelihoods while supposedly being protected from infection,” Senior Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch, Otsieno Namwaya, said.

“Police brutality isn’t just unlawful; it is also counterproductive in fighting the spread of the virus."

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