It was a gruesome murder that shocked the sleepy Karega village in Kigumo Constituency, Murang’a, and left the popular televangelist Pastor Pius Muiru of Maximum Miracle Centre a devastated man.
The murder of his mother, Grace Wangari, 75, in March 2017. Her remains were found interred in a shallow grave in her compound at the same spot where her cow had been buried days before.
It would later emerge that the cow was poisoned by her killers in an attempt to cover up the subsequent murder.
Three years on, we revisit the matter that residents still talk about with a tinge of sorrow. They reveal how Wangari lived a solitary life with her helpers who turned against her after discovering some damning secrets about them.
She was reportedly killed by her watchman, Ezekiel Saitambua, 36, and her daughter-in-law Monica Wangari, 39. Both are in police custody as the case continues at Kigumo Law Courts.
When the two were arrested it emerged they conspired to kill the old woman after she threatened to take action about an amorous affair between them. Muthoni is Wangari’s son’s wife.
The confessed killers could have fled the home without hurting her before she laid bare details about the illicit relationship, but they opted to kill her perhaps thinking the privacy the home maintained could have concealed the murder.
Residents now say the extreme privacy in that home could have given the two suspects bravery to orchestrate the heinous crime and buy enough time to take some of her belongings and escape before it was discovered.
The home is surrounded with a perimeter wall and behind the gates, two watchmen employed by Pastor Muiru stood guard and determined those to be let in or not. They also keep away those idling around the marvel at Muiru’s maisonette standing next to his mother’s bungalow.
For close to 20 years, the home has maintained a tight security and solitude of a sort that the late Wangari was rarely seen apart from while attending church services at the nearby Karega shopping centre.
“The last time I had access here was during Muiru brother’s burial in 2005. Even then, we were not allowed to join the family in vigils. We just attended the burial. For long, we didn’t have information about life there and if anything ugly happened as it happened to their old mother, we wouldn’t be able to assist in any way. Even screams could not reach us” a neighbour who sought anonymity told Opera News.
Before her murder, the humongous homestead hosted only Wangari, his two sons Mathew Waweru and Philip Kabue, Waweru’s wife Muthoni, who is a suspect in police custody over the murder, their three children and two guards.
Pastor Muiru and his family visited regularly but according to neighbours, they rarely spent nights there.
However, days to the matriarch’s murder, there were signs all was not well and Wangari had hinted to some friends that she feared for her life.
According to a family friend, she had resulted to staying indoors in the evenings not out of fearing an attack by outsiders as it happened some years back, but for fearing an enemy within her backyard.
The two security guards had stayed with the family for a long time that they run her errands and had access to her Mpesa account.
She did not trust her neighbours and other residents. All her errands, including money withdrawals and transfers, were done by Saitambua who, after the heinous act, withdrew Sh95 from Wangari’s phone.
“The watchmen too had no interaction with outsiders. We saw them when going on some errands for the family. Joy, pain and fears in that family remained behind the walls and very few of neighbours knew it,” John Maina, a resident explained.
Before her death, Muiru’s wife, Lucy, had paid her a visit to reportedly discuss the affair issue that disturbed her.
“The two suspects confessed about the affair which prompted the murder because they feared Wangari who had monitored them for some time would spill the beans. The guard and his accomplice also hoped to find lots of money in her house and phone,” a neighbour revealed.
She had properties in Murang’a and was well taken care of by his son. Thus, Saitambua had studied her for long and waited for the day to strike.
Surprisingly, the two suspects were staunch members of Maximum Miracle Centre while Wangari was a faithful at a nearby Catholic Church.
A day before the murder, it was reported of an altercation between the slain and the suspected killers but that information reached the neighbours late after she was dead.
“We all long for some privacy but interacting with neighbours especially in the countryside is important. If we were close with this family we could have learnt her fears and probably helped her in time. Unfortunately, they viewed us like people harbouring ill motives and even the guards threatened us with arrows,” a neighbour identified as Mwangi disclosed.
He added; “We don’t have neighbourliness with the family. We just share locality but we hope to have cordial relationships so we can prevent some ills.”
Pastor Muiru, who spoke to The Nairobian newspaper in a past interview, said he was devastated by the murder and wondered why people who should have been her guardian hacked her to death then buried her in a shallow grave and went about their lives unperturbed.