A Facebook date, a bottle of rum and ruined lives of would-be lovers

Moses Gatama Njoroge

Milimani Senior Principal magistrate Esther Kimilu jailed Moses Gatama Njoroge for five years causing grievous harm. Inset, Gatama in court with his victim Esther Wangari Wakimbi.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

It was supposed to be an ordinary face-to-face date after months of chatting on Facebook.

But the events of September 13, 2020 would forever change the lives of Moses Njoroge Gatama, 34, and Esther Wangari Wakimbi, 22.

While Gatama will spend the next five years behind bars, Wangari will keep shuttling between hospital doors for treatment and counselling, and according to doctors, she might be unable to conceive.

The tragic turn of events for the would-be lovers started the way all big things start – small.

A Facebook friend request then a chat then a planned date.

Gatama, an ICT expert, was 32 and Ms Wangari 20.

They two arranged to meet in person. The first date, which would go terribly wrong, happened on September 13, 2020, in Gatama’s office at Ambank House in Nairobi.

He picked her up at the reception and took her to the 12th floor, where they spent some time before going out for takeaway lunch.

On Thursday, Gatama was jailed for five years for throwing Ms Wangari three floors down, where she landed on her feet and suffered grievous harm.

The magistrate said Ms Wangari suffered serious pelvic injuries in the fall from the 12th floor to the ninth floor. Gatama took the action because he was boiling with anger after he was denied sex.

At the first meeting, Ms Wangari and Gatama decided to share lunch and wash it down with some drinks.

They went to Simbiza Hotel and bought two pieces of chicken and chips. They then proceeded to a Naivas store on Moi Avenue and bought rum and soda before heading back to Gatama’s office.

While Gatama settled on a full bottle of Captain Morgan rum, Ms Wangari sipped soda.

They enjoyed the drinks until 7.30pm, when Ms Wangari decided to leave for home.

Spend the night with her

But Gatama opposed the decision as he wanted to spend the night with her.

They allegedly started arguing and fighting and in the struggle, Ms Wangari fell through the window.

She was injured in her pelvic bone, leading to her admission to Kenyatta National Hospital.

John Kitavi, the head of security at Ambank House, told the court that Gatama had thrown Ms Wangari from the 12th floor to the ninth.

He said Ms Wangari started crying for help after the fall.

“[Gatama] came to me saying that a woman [had] fallen and requested we go and help her. We rushed there and found her in pain," he said.

Moses Gatama

Milimani Senior Principal magistrate Esther Kimilu convicted Moses Gatama Njoroge of causing grievous harm.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

He added that when asked who had thrown her off the verandah, the woman said it was Gatama.

Mr Kitavi told the court she looked intoxicated at the time.

"Gatama was at the scene. He runs an ICT office at the building and the windows are big and have no grills,” Mr Kitavi recalled.

Thrown her from the 12th floor

In March 2021, Ms Wangari told the court that Gatama had thrown her from the 12th floor of Ambank House after she refused to spend the night with him.

She said he had invited her to his office. She travelled from her home in Karura to Nairobi to meet him.

On Thursday, Gatama, who was staring at life imprisonment, managed a smile when he heard Milimani Magistrate Esther Kimilu had slapped him with a five-year jail term without the option of a fine.

“The offence with which you were charged carries life imprisonment upon conviction but given your commitment to manage your anger and promise to rehabilitate, this court orders you serve five years in jail,” Ms Kimilu ruled.

Defence lawyer Cripus Kabene had urged the court to consider the pre-sentence report and the improvement in behaviour that Gatama had shown since September 2020, when he committed the offence.

“I have personally advised Gatama to change [his] behaviour and [manage] his anger. He has promised to change. Give him a second chance in life,” Mr Kabene said.

The magistrate said the victim impact report showed that she is still undergoing treatment and counselling.

Ms Kimilu said Ms Wangari suffered permanent injuries in her pelvis and walks with crutches.

Alcohol rehabilitation and anger management

The magistrate said she had considered Gatama’s mitigation and noted he had shown his commitment to alcohol rehabilitation and anger management.

Although the offence called for life imprisonment, Ms Kimilu said, she had considered Gatama’s age and said he needed to be given a second chance in life.

She said the complainant’s life has drastically changed in the last two years.

A State prosecutor urged the court to consider imposing a harsh custodial sentence on Gatama to serve as a lesson to others with such behaviour.

But Mr Kabene urged the magistrate to have mercy on Gatama, saying he was remorseful.

During the trial, doctors said Ms Wangari suffered serious injuries and may never conceive due to complications in her birth canal.

Gatama was given 14 days to appeal against the conviction and sentence.

He had been out on bond but it was cancelled when he was convicted.

He was whisked away by prison warders to begin his prison term.

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