KIAMBU, Kenya, Feb 3 – The place looks serene, with well-manicured tea farms cutting across the over 13,000-hectare Kieni forest in Gatundu North constituency of Kiambu County.
It is lonely, understandably so, since there are no residential places save for the sweet melodies from birds and other animals inhabiting the expansive forest.
They are however other mute sounds that can only be heard by specific people- the families of the victims.
The forest is weeping- the darks secrets are spilling over for the world to see just how bad things are.
The souls of tens of people dumped in the forest are crying for the ever sluggish justice, even as more victims continue to pile.
The latest people to be dumped in the forest are three brothers and a cousin, who were mysteriously killed by unknown assailants, after their family failed to raise a half-a-million ransom they had demanded.
Capital FM News decided to visit the forest, which has become a dumping site or say a cemetery for people kidnapped and later killed — largely from outside the county according to the locals.
A bushy lane, that can fit a small car, is one of the routes used to get inside the expansive forest, a favoured one for the killer squad.
“We are used to this, every month several bodies or at least one must be found in the place,” one of the locals who did not want to be named said.
“We no longer fear seeing bodies. In fact, I was there to help the police collect them,” he added.
For Ndungu Koba, an area resident as well, says, “such incidents happen mostly during the electioneering period. I believe more will be dumped during this period… we are used to it.”
It is a favorite haven for the killer squad because it is largely isolated and it takes time for bodies to be found while people living around the place say, “we have even found completely decomposed bodies. Only skeletons there. Even now I believe you can find if you thoroughly check.”
It is such a lonesome place that one of the Capital FM News crew, when he was asked to shoot a video of a section of the place while returning to the office said, “if we come out of this place alive I will.”
Detectives from Kamwangi police Division spoke to Capital FM News, and though they declined to give exact statistics of bodies found dumped there, admitted that it is has become a notorious site.
“It happens but most of them are from outside this area,” a detective, who cannot be named since he is not authorised to speak to journalists said.
The senior officers at the station were, however, reluctant to say what they were doing to reverse the worrying trend — though it remains an insecurity issue.
The Killing of the four
The latest victims — 3 brothers and a cousin — had gone to register as voters a few meters from their rental house in Nakuru County, before they could proceed to work according to their family.
The three brothers are Paul Mutunga 31, Paul Mwai 26 and Daniel Ikenye 22.
All are in the public service vehicles business, one was a driver while the rest were conductors.
“In fact, they were dressed casually because they thought the exercise would just take a few minutes before they could proceed to work,” a family member told Capital News.
It was on 18th of January.
Since then, they were only seen dead, dumped tens of kilometers away from their home.
One of the widows called her father-in-law, worried because her husband had not returned home as usual, on the fateful night, while their phones were out of reach.
The father-in-law advised her to relax, “they could have gone to an area without electricity. They will be back tomorrow.”
Ndirangu Gachago didn’t know that he would never set his eyes to his three sons and the other relative alive.
The following day, they reported the matter to area police — within Barnabas area of Nakuru County — who were also reluctant to record any report, “since they could be just around. The police thought they will come back as well.”
After a long wait without fruition, the distressed family went back to Mwariki Police station, to record a statement, hoping their loved one will make a comeback.
The matter, however, took a worrying turn after people identifying themselves as Mungiki –a murderous cult — started sending messages, that demanded a Sh500,000 ransom.
They called Gachago using a phone number that was going through while this report was being compiled, raising serious queries on why police had failed to narrow down on the suspects or even make a single arrest.
“They have the machinery… let them track down those who killed our sons,” another family member who did not want to be named said.
“We are saddened and worried about our lives.”
The threat messages continued till January 31 when their bodies were found dumped in Kieni forest on Tuesday.
All the victims had bullets wounds consistent with being shot at a close range, according to detectives; the three brothers had their heads blown off while their cousin had multiple gunshots wounds on the chest.
Justice for the family
A special team of homicide experts from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations(DCI) has now taken over the investigation.
Director of the CID Ndegwa Muhoro says his team is under firm instructions to ensure that those behind the killings are arrested and brought to book.
While regretting the incident, Muhoro has assured the family and the country that, “the Directorate has the capacity to handle the matter.”
The family wants the culprits held to book.