What you need to know:
- Ms Evelyn Wanza and Ms Faith Nthemba were arraigned at a Mavoko magistrate’s court.
- Januaris Musau, a prominent businessman at the centre of the investigation, walked free.
Two women arrested in connection with the murder of Jane Mwende, a hairdresser based in Mlolongo township, Machakos County, will remain in police custody for 10 days.
This is after the police were on Tuesday allowed to hold them longer to complete investigations into the murder.
Ms Evelyn Wanza and Ms Faith Nthemba were arraigned at a Mavoko magistrate’s court. Januaris Musau, a prominent businessman at the centre of the investigation, walked free.
As Mwende’s relatives and friends struggled to come to terms with her death, detectives’ focus shifted to tracking down a third woman said to be a key suspect.
The woman, identified as Phyllis Mbithi, is said to have fallen out with Mwende shortly before her disappearance. Detectives believe Mbithi conspired with the other two suspects to eliminate Mwende.
The investigators are convinced that an alleged love affair involving the three women and Mr Musau was the motive for the murder.
According to highly placed security sources, Ms Mbithi has not been seen in the area since the day Mwende was reported missing.
“The third person involved in the case is still at large. We are treating her as a prime suspect. There are strong indications that she has fled to Mombasa. We are tracking her very closely,” Machakos County Police Commander Patrick Lobolia told the Nation.
The head of investigations at Mlolongo police station, Mr George Kamau, said the arrest of Mr Musau, a prominent land agent, and his wife, Wanza, was a major milestone in the manhunt.
“We have been studying the call logs of their phones for vital clues,” Mr Kamau told the Nation in an interview in his office on Monday.
Ms Nthemba is alleged to have called Mwende on her phone on the day she disappeared. She pretended to be a client. The call, detectives later found out, was a trap to get the hairdresser into the hands of her killers.
Also in the picture is a taxi driver who was allegedly hired to transport the body. He is one of the accomplices detectives are using to piece together the case.
Police say the suspects will eventually be charged with murder.
Mwende’s decomposing body was discovered in a pit latrine near Ms Mbithi’s rented house in Mlolongo township.
The 28-year-old mother of one was reported missing on August 25 after she allegedly left her workplace after she received a phone call from someone claiming to be a client. The missing person case took a new turn on Tuesday when police discovered the body.
This ended a two-week search for her that took her family and friends to various police stations, hospitals and mortuaries across the country.
The Nation understands that burial plans have begun in Kavingoni village on the border of Kitui and Machakos counties.
“As members of Mwende’s family, we just want justice to prevail,” said John Mutuku, Mwende’s uncle.