“You are shot in the arm in 2015. Your name is Josephat Mwendwa. You report the case to the police. You get a lawyer. A human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani. Graduated from law school just 5 years ago.
Mr. Kimani is an investigator with an American legal aid group, and you are Mwendwa, a young boda boda guy who was shot in the arm, accidentally, by the police officer, a senior Administration Police officer attached to Syokimau AP post. Before you know it, the police officer (and colleagues) retaliates by pursuing false charges against you, including drug counts and accusations of petty crimes like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. After the hearing, you get into a taxi with your lawyer. The taxi man is Joseph Muiruri. Just when you exit the court, the three of you are kidnapped and whisked away. June 23. News hit national and international media that a lawyer and his client have been kidnapped.
The New York Times reported “that a passer-by reportedly saw two men, maybe more, locked in a metal container on a police base yelling through a barred window for help. The men threw out a note scribbled on toilet paper. The note was from Mr. Mwendwa. It said: Call my wife. I’m in danger. That was the last anyone had seen or heard from Mr. Kimani, Mr. Mwendwa or the taxi driver. Their phones abruptly went dead on Thursday night. Police officers at the base where the toilet paper note was reportedly thrown out of the window denied seeing the three.”
The car is found abandoned, early next morning, more than 30 miles away, off Mombasa road, parked on a road in a deserted, misty tea plantation, with the doors locked.
Lawyers stage a protest in the city. Days later. July 1. The bodies of lawyer Willie Kimani and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri are found in a river in Ol-Donyo Sabuk, Machakos County. The third body, believed to be that of Josephat Mwendwa, slipped back into the river.
Two bodies are taken to the City Mortuary. Law Society of Kenya advocate Dan Kinuthia said the two were severely beaten and strangled. Their bodies are swollen and in bad shape. Some of the mortuary attendants said the bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs with a sisal rope. The records at the morgue show that their cause of death was drowning. Minutes after ordering the release of three Administration Police officers linked to the disappearance of Human Rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has ordered their re-arrest.
This, my friends, is the sad end of yet another recurring trend in Kenya. This is what impunity means. Where I come from, we call this ‘thuol odonjo e ko’ – ‘ a snake has entered the gourd’.
What do you do? What will be done?
This the New Kenya. You are on your own.”