You arrested the wrong woman, Teresia Wanjiru’s family tells police

Mathee wa Ngara

Grace Mwihaki, mother to Teresia Wanjiru who was arrested in Ngara on claims of handling drugs and large sums of money. Ms Mwihaki was speaking to Nation' at her Ngara residence on the arrest of her daughter on August 17, 2023.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The family of Teresia Wanjiru, now widely referred to as "Mathee wa Ngara", who was arrested on Tuesday night in a sting operation led by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, insists the police have the wrong woman.

It is puzzling that everyone in the Ngara informal settlement where the operation took place, in which police recovered over Sh13 million stuffed in gunny sacks and an assortment of drugs, agrees that the police arrested the wrong 'Mathee'.

Although they know the real Mathee wa Ngara and what she does, no one could utter her name.

She is feared, revered and "well protected" by the police, those interviewed by Nation said. Sitting at her doorstep, Ms Wanjiru's mother, Grace Mwihaki, said she was shocked to learn that her daughter, who sells food barely 20 metres from her home, had been arrested for possession and peddling of illegal drugs.

She recounted how more than 20 policemen seized her daughter, who was washing some utensils at her roadside kiosk.

"The police first arrested another woman, took her to her house and then released her. Then came back and took my daughter from her shop and she took them to her house. They appeared surprised at how small the house was," she said. After searching the house, they bundled Ms Wanjiru into one of their vehicles. At this point, the concerned mother rushed to the police officers and demanded to know why her child had been arrested.

"They told me they had not arrested her, they just wanted her to sit with them. I asked them how she could just sit there when the food she was cooking was burning. I went and got the food from the stove,” she says.

A few minutes later, the story changed as the police vehicles prepared to leave, with Ms Wanjiru still in one of them.

"They told me that the drugs and money belonged to her. How could my daughter have that amount of money and we are still living in squalor?" she asked.

Her story was corroborated by Ms Wanjiru's daughter, Sheila Waithera, who had just returned home when her friend told her that her mother had been arrested for selling drugs.

"I told the officers that they had the wrong person because I had left my mother cooking at her hotel less than an hour ago!"

Mr Joseph Irungu, Ms Wanjiru's son, believes that the police "just had to arrest someone" and that his mother was the unfortunate one.

"The person they are looking for is well known. She was even arrested last year but later released. They know what she looks like. Her complexion, body structure and even skin tone is very different from my mother's. They should release her," he said.