Six years on, families of Mavoko Three still wait for justice for their kin

Mavoko Three protests

Protestors take part in a demonstration along the Streets of Nairobi on July 4, 2016 demanding for justice after the brutal murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwendwa and a Taxi driver Joseph Muiruri. The three were abducted outside Mavoko Law Courts where Mwendwa had sued a police officer.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The families of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri are still waiting for justice, six years after the three men disappeared on June 23, 2016, and were later found brutally murdered.

Their bodies were found in River Athi in Ol Donyo Sabuk, a week after they were abducted as they left Mavoko Law Courts.

Four police officers and one police informant were charged with the murders.

The three men went missing after attending a court session in a case by Mwenda against one of the policemen accused of the murders.

Today -- 100 adjournments, testimonies by 45 prosecution witnesses and 34 defence witnesses later -- the ruling in the case that was closed in February 22 is yet to be delivered.

The families of the victims said they were praying and hoping for justice as they wait.

Kimani's brother, Mr Simon Njenga, said the search for justice has been long and gruesome and called for justice for all victims of police brutality.

"We are still waiting for justice to prevail as many were affected by my brother's death, especially my parents, who are old and weak. The three cannot rest in peace until justice is delivered, and on behalf of the three families, we feel it’s time justice got delivered for their gruesome death," said Mr Njenga.

Muiruri's sister, Ms Stella Muiruri said her biggest regret was seeing her 27-year-old brother die just months to his wedding, without a child.

Her two other brothers bore the brunt of Muiruri’s painful loss, she said. "One suffered hypertension and diabetes and succumbed last year to complications, and the other became an alcoholic after the incident."

International Justice Mission (IJM) Country Director Benson Shamala recalled that the cruel and inhuman act robbed three families of their loved ones; the larger human rights fraternity, the legal profession and the country – of three young men in their prime.

"These instances are just a fraction of the numerous cases where families are calling for justice now! This sixth anniversary of the disappearance and consequent murders of Willie, Joseph and Josephat is a timely moment for us to reflect and call for accountability for perpetrators of violence," Mr Shamala said during an event to remember the three victims at the National Museums of Kenya on Thursday.

While the deaths of Kimani, Mwenda and Muiruri sparked countrywide protests over the grave state of human rights violations, especially in lower income areas, Mr Shamala said it was sad that the vice had continued and families of victims are still having to suffer the long, lonely and painful search for justice.

He cited the case of 13-year-old Yassin Moyo, who was killed by a police stray bullet at his parents’ balcony in Kiamaiko; and the Mukuru Eight -- eight young men who were allegedly shot dead by police officers in Mukuru kwa Reuben in April 2016 -- whose proceedings are yet to begin in court.

On Wednesday, Ms Fransisca Monthe, a member of a group of mothers of victims of police brutality died before she could find justice over the killing of her son by the police.

Latest statistics from the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority show that 123 cases of deaths by police action, 46 deaths in police custody and 28 cases of enforced disappearance were recorded on 2021 alone.

IJM called for ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of all persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and criminalisation of enforced disappearances in the country.

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