Tecra and Omar Lali never lived in peace, witness tells inquest

Mr Eric Cheruiyot

Mr Eric Cheruiyot, former bodyguard of of the late Keroche Breweries Limited heiress Tecra Muigai, when he appeared in court on March 10, 2021 during the ongoing inquest into her death.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

The personal body guard and driver of the late Keroche Breweries Limited heiress Tecra Muigai Wednesday told the court inquiring into her mysterious death that her boyfriend, Mr Omar Lali, threatened him twice in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania and in Lamu, Kenya.

Mr Eric Cheruiyot, a former Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldier, said for the nine months he worked for Ms Muigai, the strategy and innovation director at Keroche Breweries and her boyfriend never lived peacefully.

He said he witnessed many incidents of confrontation and that their relationship knew no peace. Theirs was a frosty relationship, he added.

Mr Cheruiyot said he accompanied the couple on their tours to Nyeri, Meru, Nanyuki, Kisumu, and Lamu. He said most of the times, Mr Lali would retreat to a solitary table, then stay alone for many hours while Ms Muigai would join his friends for business engagements, which annoyed Mr Lali.

At one time, Ms Muigai’s house help found Mr Lali crying in the morning with his luggage thrown outside.

“I asked the house help why Mr Lali was crying then she told me he had been kicked out of the Naivasha residence of Tecra,”Mr Cheruiyot testified.

The magistrate heard that Ms Muigai slapped Mr Lali outside a Naivasha hotel after he refused to board her vehicle to another hotel where she was to meet some friends.

“Tecra grabbed Mr Lali’s shirt and forced him to board their vehicle but he resisted. It was then I heard Tecra unleash a heavy slap on Mr Lali then he boarded the vehicle,” Mr Cheruiyot recounted.

‘Not good people’

He recalled that Mr Lali had warned Ms Muigai against meeting some two friends whom he claimed were “not good people”.

“Tecra once asked him (lali) ‘How do you want me to work if I cannot meet and discuss business with my friends?’” said Mr Cheruiyot, adding that Ms Muigai had vowed to ditch her boyfriend but it never came to pass.

Mr Cheruiyot testified that the late Ms Muigai and Mr Lali moved to various cities and towns partying and having fun, which ended up in serious confrontations.

In the Dar-es-salaam incident, the witness told Senior Principal Magistrate Zainab Abdul that a nasty confrontation erupted after a blissful birthday party for Mr James Karanja.

“Tecra had asked me to accompany her to Dar to surprise her elder brother James Karanja during his birthday celebration. He was not expecting her,” Mr Cheruiyot said.

She was also accompanied by Mr Lali.

After the party, Mr Karanja’s girlfriend, Victoria, grabbed Ms Muigai’s handbag from Mr Lali and handed it over to the bodyguard.

“Leave Tecra alone, you are an old man and she is a young woman,” Victoria told Mr Lali.

That statement enraged Mr Lali who in return told Victoria, “You and Cheruiyot are up to a sinister motive.”

He hurled nasty unprintable insults at Ms Muigai.

Threatened Cheruiyot

Hot on the heels of those insults, Mr Cheruiyot told the court that Mr Lali threatened him telling him, “You do not know me, I will make you disappear and your children will never see you again.”

The former bodyguard said he was stung by that threat and dared Mr Lali to “make good your threat here and now not in the future. You cannot abuse my boss in my presence”.

The situation cooled down through Ms Muigai’s intervention.

While being led in his evidence by State Prosecutor Peter Muia, the witness said he quit his job since Mr Lali had made his working environment difficult by pocketing money sent to Ms Muigai for upkeep and for business ventures.

“Tecra did not have an M-Pesa number so her money was usually sent to me by her personal assistant Sarita Ikenye then I [would] forward it to Mr Lali who never told her,” Mr Cheruiyot said.

The witness said he reported the finances issue to Mrs Tabitha Karanja, Ms Muigai’s mother, then resigned in January 2020.

He had worked for the Keroche heiress between May 2019 and January 2020. He said he never interacted with her after quitting the job and that he learnt of her death in April 2020.

Hearing continues.