What you need to know:
- The 26-year-old, whose career was just taking off and had planned to wed later this year, died in a row over Sh100
- The driver, with the help of his two touts, allegedly pushed her out of the vehicle.
“They have killed my only daughter. The only person we hoped would get us out of poverty.”
These were the emotional words of Mr Elizaphan Nyaga, 62, following the death of his daughter, Ms Judy Wanjiku.
The Equity Bank Ruiru branch employee was pushed out of a Mwea-bound matatu by rogue crew in Juja on Saturday, some 30 minutes after she had boarded the vehicle in Ruiru.
The 26-year-old, whose career was just taking off and had planned to wed later this year, hit her head on the tarmac and was dead less than 18 hours later, in a row over Sh100 additional fare.
On Monday, a post-mortem conducted at the Thika Level Five Referral Hospital revealed that Ms Wanjiku had three fractures in her skull that caused a swelling of the brain.
Ms Wanjiku, who was a beneficiary of Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly scholarship programme for bright and needy students, had boarded the matatu in Ruiru at around 6.30pm on her way to Mwea in Kirinyaga.
She would have her journey cut short a few kilometres away.
According to family members, when Ms Wanjiku boarded the vehicle — registration number KCZ 729C belonging to Memba Sacco — she quarrelled with the driver and two touts over a rise in the fare.
Witnesses had told police that Ms Wanjiku had agreed to pay Sh400 and handed over a Sh500 note. But when the matatu got to Juja, the crew refused to give her back her change, prompting a quarrel. The vehicle stopped and the driver ordered her to alight.
Fare between Ruiru and Juja is usually Sh60, but the driver said she would have to pay Sh200.
Pushed out of matatu
Ms Wanjiku did not accept the new terms. The driver, with the help of his touts, allegedly pushed her out of the vehicle. She hit her head on the tarmac and was seriously hurt. Well-wishers rushed her to Equity Afia Clinic in Ruiru. Her brother, Mr Issac Muthua, Monday said that she was treated and discharged.
“By Saturday night, Wanjiku was quite well, she was even joking with her brother and boyfriend. When she went to sleep, she told them not to wake her up early as she had a headache and wanted to rest,” Mr Eliud Wanja, the family spokesperson, told the Nation.
This would be the last time her family would hear from her.
By Sunday mid-morning, Ms Wanjiku was unconscious. She was found in her bed by neighbours who got curious when it was almost 10am and no one had seen her. Her brother was contacted, and, together with the neighbours, rushed her to the Thika Level Five Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Ms Wanjiku had graduated from the University of Nairobi with a first class degree in Agribusiness in 2019. Last year, she joined Equity Bank’s Ruiru branch. She had been looking forward to a successful career, and her family was looking up to her to improve their fortunes.
“We have lost a bread winner. Someone we invested so much hope in. She had started getting us out of poverty and was about to start her family life,” her father told the Nation Monday at the Thika Level Five Hospital mortuary.
“Now I have only been left with one son. I had been blessed with one daughter and a son,” said Mr Nyaga as he wiped tears from his eyes before entering the autopsy room.
About to wed
Felix Muchiri, Ms Wanjiku’s boyfriend, said she died when they were about to wed.
“My family had visited her family to pass my intention to marry Judy. The same day she was assaulted, she was coming to meet me. We had talked on phone. Even after being discharged from a hospital in Ruiru before her situation deteriorated, she told me that she was having a severe headache. I have lost a good friend,” Mr Muchiri said.
“We had dated for four years and we were to marry this year,” Mr Muchiri disclosed.
Ms Wanjiku’s friends described her as a go-getter and smart student whose drive was to get her family out of poverty.
“She was a go-getter who knew where she had come from and was eager to change the fortunes of her parents through education,” Ms Marryanetta Wangui, who studied with Ms Wanjiku at the University of Nairobi said.
Ms Esther Gitau, another college friend, described her as a hard-working woman who scored a first class in her undergraduate studies.
“We have not arrested the driver and his conductor but we have traced the vehicle and towed it to a police station. Efforts to arrest the two are ongoing,” said Juja OCPD Beatrice Migarusha.