NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – At his prime age of 28, James Ng’ang’a Muiruri had just completed his PhD, a prestigious Doctor of Law degree from the University of Sheffield, UK.
But his ‘swift victory’ was taken away in just minutes and by five bullets, two to the head, three to the chest, all at close range.
The son of the former Gatundu North Member of Parliament Patrick Muiruri was on the wrong end of a gun barrel belonging to an Inspector of Police attached to the Capital Hill Police Post.
Having attained a Distinction in the coveted degree, Ng’ethu Star as he was popularly referred to by close friends was surely destined for good things in life. But this was not to be.
In his blog http://ngethustar.blogspot.com/2008/03/story-of-progress.html Ng’ang’a describes his Doctorate degree as the ‘best achievement’ in his life.
“Since being awarded the doctorate, every moment has felt like a quiet afternoon with the fresh air forming some summer saxophone note, rising and falling on a warm breeze. With jewels in my heart, it is heaven here and the light that glows inside my heart feels like the salvation that will hopefully free my soul and brighten many others,” he states.
Indeed, he was a man happy with his achievements; “Overall, in considering my purpose on life, I see myself as an idea that must find expression. In the very least, I hope that my story peels away the layers of doubt that covers many of those that are discouraged by exclusive and bureaucratic systems. Anyone, and everyone, deserves a chance at the shot.”
To the young Ng’ang’a, Friday night was a day out just like any other where he could assemble with his friends for a drink-up.
And they were all sons of the wealthy politicians or traders in Nairobi, residing in posh estates.
“We went out drinking in various clubs and eventually settled in Westlands where we had a brief argument with some guys sitting next table,” a friend to the deceased told Capital News on Sunday.
He could not confirm reports that they were arguing over a woman in the pub as earlier suggested by witnesses and reported in a local daily.
Bouncers in the club were swift enough to separate what could have degenerated into an all out bar brawl.
They separated the other group and reportedly allocated them a table, far from the Ng’ang’a’s.
“Even after being separated, one of the guys in our table (sic) went to the washroom and picked up yet another argument and they almost fought in there. That was the beginning of all the trouble,” he added.
It was already at dawn and the bar management requested patrons to leave because it was time to shut down.
“The other group was the first to leave. We left a few minutes later and unknown to us, the group comprised of a senior police officer who was enraged after the argument,” he said.
According to witnesses, the group left in three cars, but on reaching Ring Road a car the senior police officer was driving blocked Ng’ang’a’s vehicle and tried to force him out.
“It appears he wanted to handcuff him but he resisted, prompting an argument, that is when he drew the gun and shot at him,” he recounted.
With gun shots renting the air that Saturday morning, everyone in the vicinity including Ng’ang’a’s friends took off, save for his younger brother who with the help of good Samaritans rushed him to the MP Shah Hospital.
The officer is reported to have driven to the Buru Buru police station where he presented himself to authorities.
“He went to the station and said he had shot someone but he did not give more details until the officers at the station heard the information being relayed in their communication gadgets that a man had been shot dead in Westlands. That is when he was arrested,” a senior police officer familiar with the investigations said.
Meanwhile, part of the group that was with Ng’ang’a was at the Parklands police station reporting the matter, only to join their colleagues later at the MP Shah hospital where the sad news were relayed to them.
By Sunday afternoon, police said six first-hand witnesses had recorded statements over the killing.
“The investigation is progressing on well, we have a number of witnesses lined up to record statements,” Nairobi Provincial Police chief Njue Njagi said.
Ng’ang’a’s brother John who witnessed the episode was among people who had recorded statements with the police.
Capital News reliably established that the police officer arrested over the murder is an Inspector of Police who was in charge of the Capital Hill Police Post.
And on Sunday, Justice and Cohesion Minister Martha Karua was at the Nairobi home of the late Ng’ang’a in Nyari estate where he condemned the top police management for ‘failing to provide proper leadership.’
“The reforms in the police are long over due, it is time to act and we are going to act, this tell us that there are many more rogue police officers in the force,” she told journalists.
“The reforms will include a total overhaul of the top leadership in line with Waki’s recommendations in his report on the post election violence,” she said.
Ng’ethu Star is sub-headlined “From that Destined Child beneath the Stars that light the African Village along the valleys of River Chania, to the Road to Doctorate and Beyond the eagle’s heights.”