Crime scene
Caption for the landscape image:

Witness narrates how woman played victim after killing her husband

Scroll down to read the article

Calvin Ngaira succumbed to the injuries at MediHeal Hospital in Eldoret.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The prime suspect in the murder of Dutch tycoon Herman Rouwenhorst ordered three assassins to tie her up inside the foreigner’s car to make it appear as though she had been a victim of a robbery that resulted in his death, a court was informed.

A Mombasa High Court has heard that the suspect, Riziki Ali Cherono, was determined to cover up her actions of executing her husband’s murder by portraying herself as a victim of the June 4, 2021, incident at Roco Apartment in Shanzu.

Widow's sinister plot

A suspect-turned-witness, Ms Mary Ambani Nekesa, revealed to the court what transpired before and after the Dutch businessman's murder. 

“It was a white Probox, belonging to the deceased. We got into the car in the early hours of the morning. I sat in the back seat while Mr Timothy Omondi sat in the co-driver's seat. Ms Cherono took the driver's seat," she informed Justice Anne Ong'injo. 

The witness mentioned that Mr Omondi instructed her to move to the back seat after realising she wanted to sit next to Ms Cherono. 

There were five individuals in the car: Mr Omondi, Ms Cherono, and two hired assassins, one of whom was armed. 

While Ms Cherono was driving, Mr Omondi supposedly commended the widow for her courage, as he had expected her to be frightened by the situation. 

"I didn't know you were this strong. I thought you would be scared and run away," Mr Omondi allegedly said to Ms Cherono. 

The widow reportedly responded by asking Mr Omondi if he had completed the task. 

According to the witness, Omondi assured the widow that he had hit the deceased at a very sensitive part of the body and that he would not make it. 

“Ms Cherono then told Omondi that it was time to go somewhere along the Mombasa-Malindi road, she be tied up with a rope and left there to appear as if the attackers had abducted her inside her house and abandoned her along the road after killing her husband,” said the witness who was being led in her evidence by state Counsel Bernard Ngiri. 

The witness said Omondi did exactly as the widow had requested her. 

“I was dropped off at Shanzu junction and proceeded to Mtwapa,” said the witness. 

Hiring a hitman 

Ms Ambani also took the court through a series of events that culminated into the eventual murder of the Dutchman who was 55 years old at the time of his death. 

It started as far back as May 1, 2021 during a birthday party attended by the widow, Omondi alongside their other friends, including the deceased's child. 

During this party, Omondi and Cherono moved aside where they talked for about 15 minutes before he left at around 11pm while she returned to the party. 

The frenzy went on until the following morning. The witness told the court that the deceased called his daughter to inquire where they had spent the night. Cherono had lost her phone. 

“The child left to go home after receiving the deceased’s call. However, Cherono remained behind and proceeded with the drinking spree. We later went to the police station to make a report of the missing phone,” she said while being cross examined by the widow’s lawyer Jared Magolo. 

The witness said the deceased was annoyed with Cherono’s conduct. 

On May 17, Cherono called Ms Ambani and asked her to reach out to Omondi, she wanted to meet him in person. 

The witness called Omondi who arrived in a motorbike at a joint within Bamburi, where they had agreed to meet. 

“It is here that Ms Cherono informed Omondi that she had a job for him, to kill her husband. Omondi said that taking away someone’s life was not an easy task but he needed a down payment before he could mobilise his accomplices to carry out the  assignment,” Ms Ambani told the court. 

However, the witness said Cherono pleaded with Omondi that she did not have enough cash but would benefit heavily from the huge sums of money that were in a safe in the house after killing the foreigner. 

“At this point, I suggested to Cherono that if there were huge sums of money in the house, then the aim should be just to steal the money instead of killing the foreigner. But she insisted that she wanted her husband dead,”  said the witness. 

The witness said that her suggestion appeared to have irked Ms Cherono who chose to move to a different table away from her to negotiate with Omondi. 

After the negotiations, the witness said the widow went with Omondi to her house to survey in readiness for the mission. 

“Omondi returned after 30 minutes and showed me the photos of the interior of the house that he had taken. We then left the venue. Cherono settled the bill at the joint and promised Omondi that he would get payment after finishing the work,” the witness said. 

She said Cherono visited her home on May 29,  where she inquired from her whether she was still intending to proceed with her mission. The widow allegedly told her that she had made her decision and there was no turning back. 

On May 31, the witness told the court that Cherono contacted her to reach out to Omondi if he was ready to carry out  the mission. 

On reaching out to Omondi, the witness said the man responded that he had tried to break into the deceased home but failed on two occasions. 

"This is where Ms Cherono came up with the idea that I was to facilitate the assassins’ smooth entry into the compound by getting there early enough," she said. 

A night of horror: How the murder unfolded

So on the night of June 3, Ms Ambani entered the deceased compound and hid in an unoccupied room. She was allegedly assisted by Ms Cherono who handed over to her one of the keys. 

“Around 2am on June 4, I helped Omondi to enter the apartment compound," she said. 

To smoothly facilitate entry without raising suspicion, she said she informed  the guard, Evans Bokoro, that Omondi was her guest. 

She stated that they  proceeded to the empty room and plotted to poison meat intended for the security dogs to incapacitate them. 

Omondi then reportedly departed with a metal bar concealed in his jacket. Approximately 45 minutes later, Bokoro was lying lifeless.

“I asked Omondi why he decided to kill the watchman yet that was not the job he was hired to do. He however told me to keep quiet as he was doing his work. Within a short time two men came in and the three proceeded to the deceased house,” she told the court. 

Subsequently, the three attackers assaulted Mr Rouwenhorst, leaving him unconscious and tied. 

The witness said she saw everything that happened and felt sorry. 

Phone records

The court was informed that an examination of call records linked Ms Ambani to the location, indicating her communication with Cherono and Omondi before and after the incident. 

“A phone recovered from the suspects revealed text messages detailing a plot by Ambani and Omondi on how the murder was to be executed,” said Mr Ngiri. 

Court records indicate Ms Ambani was arrested and charged as the central figure coordinating the killings from a vacant room in the apartment, where Cherono allegedly accommodated her to facilitate the plans' execution. 

Investigators also mentioned that she had a small tenant gate key that she used to open the gate for Omondi to access the compound when he arrived at the scene.

Ms Ambani, who is now a state witness, confirmed this during the hearing. 

Ms Ambani was jointly charged with Ms Cherono and Mr Omondi alias Rashid alias Tony Ochieng alias Mohamed Khalid for the murder of the Dutchman and security guard at his apartment Evans Pole Bokoro. 

Ms Ambani is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two manslaughter charges.