What you need to know:
- In her short stay in Ololua, she had touched many other people including boda boda riders who he linked to credit facilities as they sought to own motorcycles.
Slain television journalist Betty Barasa, who will be buried on Wednesday, had a big heart, loved company and was passionate about empowering boys, multiple interviews with those close to her show.
The 41-year-old mother of three made many friends at work and in Ololua where she met her death on Wednesday at the hands of three gunmen who had attacked her while arriving home from work just after 8.30pm.
Less than a Kilometre away from her home, Ms Susan Karanja, who runs an orphanage, is struggling to come to terms with the news of the shooting.
Ms Barasa had been a frequent philanthropist to the Imani Children’s home housing about 40 orphans and had given her last donation barely two days before she was murdered — Sh5,000 to buy meat for the children to celebrate Easter Monday. A month ago, she had sent some clothing and was preparing to purchase a list of items Ms Karanja had sent her for the several children.
“I had been knocking gates of several new residents here to ask for foodstuff for the children but not many were welcoming. We didn’t look for Betty, she looked for us one Christmas when she asked where she could contribute foodstuff and someone shared our phone number. She has been a cheerful giver since then and we are really devastated by her death,” Ms Karanja said
She was also in the process of setting up a barber shop where children from the centre would get free services.
The children, some of whom are rescued as babies, have been frequenting her home to condole with the family. They composed and sang amid sobs on Thursday evening at the home, leaving quietly after a prayer at the gate. “Aunty has left us, who shall we run to…’” went part of the lyrics from the song.
In her short stay in Ololua, she had touched many other people including boda boda riders who he linked to credit facilities as they sought to own motorcycles.
She had also created a women’s group from the area called ‘Blessed Women’. In their WhatsApp group where she was the only administrator, she posted her last message a day before she was murdered and very little activity has happened after that. Tributes continue to trickle and the ladies are devastated.
The group had planned to give her a wedding anniversary surprise next week, a date that may now coincide with her burial.
“She was our mobiliser, the chairlady and who we will really struggle to find a replacement for. Death has picked the best amongst us and we pray that time will heal us. She was the pacesetter for the group and it will never be the same again,” Ms Esther Akala told Sunday Nation. On the day of her murder, she is said to have been very jovial at work, popping into offices, greeting colleagues and chatting joyfully about work.
She had volunteered to take the shift that ends in the evening when the curfew was reduced to 8pm since she had a personal car and considered it more convenient to travel home in the evening than some of her colleagues who would have struggled to catch a public transport back at home after work.
Her last trip from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation headquarters was in the company of Mr Anthony Osome, a friend she had met during her post-graduate studies at Kenyatta University.
A producer by profession, the family friend from Maseno had found a favour in Betty who would host him during his visits in Nairobi and he was the last person to spend time with her that Wednesday when they left town just before 7.30pm.
The two were set to finalise Betty’s master’s thesis and which they would submit next week for examination. In her thesis, she had focused on empowerment of the boy child through film, according to Mr Omose, commonly known by the family as Tony.
Tony recalls that the ordeal which lasted just about under 10 minutes hit its peak when one thug walked with Betty to the upper floor while the one who had ordered Betty’s sons and himself to lie down asked whether he should ‘finish’ them.
“He was told by the thug escorting Betty upstairs not to finish us and what followed was a moment you cannot describe. It was like swinging between being alive and dead and it was hard to be sure whether the darkness that came with your face on the floor was from being dead or just closing your eyes,” Tony narrated in an interview interrupted by sobs and long pauses .
“Betty was family, she was not just a friend and it is sad that I will be left by that tragic end of our interactions. She was so friendly and jovial; a strong defender for boy child empowerment,” he added.
They had a warm chat in the car and he recalls Betty complaining of being hungry and saying she only wanted to eat, refresh and sleep. It never came to be.
They had a short stop at the gate, hooted and the househelp came to open for them almost immediately. She did not manage to close it as the three hooded men jumped into the scene, causing her to scream.
Betty looked behind the rear and let out a scream as well, another thug was already on the driver’s window and they were being ordered out at gunpoint. The maid would later become a key target after the shooting with the thugs combing the house to find her. She survived after hiding in two different places together with Ms Barasa’s daughter who had just completed KCPE exam.
The ordeal that culminated into the fatal shooting of Ms Barasa has left the family traumatised. The motive remains unclear since the thugs who had a chance to rob any other item, only made away with phones, a laptop and Mr Barasa’s wedding ring after making a few money demands.
They neither stole anything from the car whose engine was still running near the gate nor did they drive it away. They left on foot and only Betty’s phone was found the next day, still charged at 55 per cent.
“Please take anything but spare our lives,” Mr Barasa remembers pleading severally with the three hooded thugs he described as ‘very young.’ They never listened to him and when he tried to follow them upstairs, he was threatened. He obliged and that was the last time he saw his wife alive. What did the thug discuss with Betty at their bedroom door when they went upstairs with the gun pointed to her face? Why would they shoot an unarmed woman? How come the thugs left immediately after the shooting and how did they move with AK-47 guns? What could have been the motive of the shooting and why did they choose the journalist? These puzzles are yet to be unravelled by the police since Wednesday.
@Edwincowino; [email protected]