Stephen Wang’ondu

Nyeri businessman Stephen Wang’ondu, who is accused of plotting his son’s murder, at the Nyeri Law Courts on February 26, 2021.

| Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

How Nyeri tycoon Stephen Wang’ondu plotted killing of his ‘favourite’ son

What you need to know:

  • For the past five months, Mr Daniel Mwangi’s gruesome murder has been shrouded in mystery, betrayal and mistrust.

Nyeri businessman Stephen Wang’ondu was so determined to eliminate his son that he was not only willing to pay Sh160,000 for the job, but was also ready to give up part of his multimillion estate.

For the past five months, Mr Daniel Mwangi’s gruesome murder has been shrouded in mystery, betrayal and mistrust. The Wang’ondu family has named the patriarch, who has since died, the prime suspect in the murder.

The Saturday Nation has acquired signed confessions by two key suspects in the murder, detailing how a suspected marital affair involving a man, his wife and father ended in homicide. The two played the roles of fixer and middleman in the January 1 killing. Geoffrey Warutumo and James Mahinda have been turned into state witnesses. Mahinda was this week sentenced to two years in jail and one year probation for failing to report a murder plot.

According to Mwangi’s siblings, he was his father’s favourite son, but that was seemingly not enough to spare his life. A key suspect in the murder claims that Wang’ondu was eager to have his son eliminated and was very pleased when the job was done.

Mahinda, who was Wang’ondu’s driver and personal assistant, put together the killer squad with a promised payout of Sh160,000. But even that deal ended in betrayal and double cross.

Mahinda was first introduced to the Wang’ondu family in 2013. He worked as a farm manager in Mweiga for two years before leaving to run a business with his wife. He would return after being persuaded by Wang’ondu in November 2019. At the time, he was given a house and a farm as he worked for the tycoon’s eldest son, Elijah Kinini.

Estranged wife

The relationship between Mwangi and his father was fine until December last year, when he is said to have fallen out with his wife. Things soured between them when the woman moved into Wang’ondu’s home. Mwangi accused his father of stealing his wife.

“The wife ran to Mzee (Wang’ondu) and he gave her a house to live in, in his compound. From that time, Mwangi was angry that his father had taken his wife,” Mahinda said in his confession.

Two weeks before his death, Mwangi confronted his father and estranged wife at his petrol station in Mweiga Town. Mwangi then attacked his father.

James Mahinda, Eddy Kariuki, Raphael Wachira, Geoffrey Warutumo and tycoon Stephen Wang’ondu at the Nyeri High Court on March 2 , 2021, when they were charged with the murder of David Mwangi, Mr Wang’ondu’s son.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“He was rescued by a crowd that had gathered. Dan (Mwangi) was taken away from the scene, but he was demanding to be released so that he could kill his father,” Mahinda continued. Following the violent confrontation, Wang’ondu approached his driver and asked him to find strong young men who would “punish” his son for him. In return, the driver was to get a share of Wang’ondu’s vast land in Mweiga and anyone willing to take up the job would get Sh160,000.

“He promised me land for the job,” Mahinda said.

At first, the driver claims he was hesitant about the job, but his boss pestered him into submission. He agreed to find the killers for his boss and his go-to person was Warutumo, an old friend and miraa seller in Embu that he casually refers to as Jeff in the statement.

Warutumo said he was first contacted by Mahinda on December 29, 2020. He asked him to get three strong young men to be employed at a quarry in Nyeri. The job description later changed to an execution.

“He later said he wanted people who could injure a person who was disturbing him,” he said.

Warutumo, too, claimed he initially did not want to be part of the plot, but was convinced when Mahinda travelled to Embu a day later.

On December 30, Wang’ondu gave Mahinda Sh20,000 to help in putting together the hit squad. Mahinda then travelled to Embu to convince Warutumo.

Upon meeting Warutumo, Mahinda introduced him to Eddy Kariuki. Mahinda then explained the details of the job to the man, informing him that it was worth Sh100,000. He was going to keep Sh60,000 for himself.

The man gladly took the deal and even called his friend Raphael Wachira, who agreed to take up the job.

Daniel Mwangi Wang’ondu.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

On December 31, Kariuki called and informed Mahinda that they were ready to proceed with the mission. They all assembled at Warutumo’s kiosk in Embu before leaving for Nyeri by matatu. Warutumo was left behind.

In Nyeri, they had lunch at a popular restaurant where they finalised their plans. They travelled to Mweiga by matatu and proceeded to Wendiga area by boda boda.

“I showed them Mwangi’s home and then we returned to Mweiga town. There, wesaw Mwangi who was in his saloon car. He stopped and alighted and that way (the two men) got a good look at him,” Mahinda said.

After positively identifying their target, Kariuki and Wachira instructed Mahinda to buy gloves and a metal rod for the job. They bought the gloves at an agrovet while Mahinda bought a metal rod for Sh150. He then gave the two Sh500 for supper as they parted ways.

Mahinda then went to Wang'ondu's quarry about 300 metres from Mweiga town.

“I met Mzee and updated him on the progress of the mission, of which he was very happy,” the driver said.

They then agreed that he would drop his employer home after work and remain with the tycoon’s personal vehicle, which would be used as the getaway vehicle. Mahinda dropped Wang’ondu home between 5.30pm and 6pm and returned to Mweiga town.

“At around 1am, I had not heard from the two, so I decided to go home,” he said.

The exact time of Mwangi’s murder still remains unclear but he is said to have been returning home from a New Year’s party when he was ambushed by the two men at the entrance to his home.

“Since he was alone, he parked his car outside the gate and climbed over the perimeter fence so that he could open the gate from the inside,” Mr Joachim Wambugu, his grandfather, told the Nation.

The attackers, who are believed to have been hiding in a bush near the gate, followed him into the compound, beat him up and stabbed him multiple times.

Detectives have acquired phone records placing the two men at or within the area of the crime scene.

At 5.30am, Kariuki called Mahinda and informed him that they had “finished the job” and were waiting to get paid. They met at Mweiga town where Mahinda drove them to a hideout in Kamatongu as he went to collect the payment from Wang’ondu.

“I told him that the boys had finished the job and wanted their pay. He handed me Sh160,000,” Mahinda said.

In an interesting turn of events, the driver says he left with the tycoon from his home in the company of a woman identified as Wa Ndangi and Mwangi’s wife. The driver dropped off Mwangi’s wife at Wang’ondu’s petrol station and drove him and Wa Ndangi to the quarry.

At the time, Mwangi’s body lay in a pool of blood outside his house, which had been given to him by his father alongside 20 acres of land.

Mahinda then picked up Kariuki and Wachira and drove to Nyeri town, where he handed them Sh100,000. So appreciative were the hitmen that they each gave Sh4,000 to Mahinda to share with Warutumo for getting them the job.

Wang’ondu then called his driver to go pick up Mwangi’s grandfather from Embaringo in Kieni West and take him to Mwangi’s home.

Fixing the job

By the time they arrived at the home, police were processing the scene and had moved Mwangi’s body to the Nyeri County Referral Hospital mortuary. In the meantime, Wang’ondu was at his home receiving condolences from friends and family. Mwangi was buried a week later.

After the burial, Mahinda says he approached Wang’ondu to claim the piece of land he had been promised for plotting the murder. He then fled to Githurai in Kiambu County, where he was arrested on February 20.

Two weeks after Mwangi’s murder, Warutumo claims that Kariuki and Wachira visited his miraa kiosk in Embu.

“I asked why I did not receive something for fixing the job for them. They told me that Mahinda was to send me Sh4,000. He sent me the money when I enquired about it,” Warutumo said in his statement.

Kariuki is said to have built a two-room house from the payment, while Wachira bought household items, including a subwoofer.

Mahinda later called Warutumo and instructed him to tell Kariuki and Wachira to switch off their phones and never speak of the operation. By then, detectives were hot on their heels. Mahinda would eventually lead them to arrest Wang’ondu, Warutumo, Kariuki and Wachira.