NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 31 – Though the Jomo Kenyatta University Student Association (JKUSA) leaders raised hands in a show of solidarity, it was more of a surrendering pose.
Surrendering to fate as they try to quench the thirst of education and harvest the fruits of their labour in a safe environment.
They say, it’s not all that easy; it is a matter of life and death.
On Monday, they looked troubled and fear-stricken as they sought answers over the spiralling cases of insecurity in Juja Town, where most students reside.
This is after the mysterious murder of a fourth-year student, who was strangled, and her body dumped near the expansive institution’s hostels on July 24.
Tabitha Kiita went missing on Saturday, July 21 after a night out according to her friends who last saw her.
“She boarded a bus that was headed towards town but never returned,” a comrade who sought anonymity told Capital FM News.
That was at about 6am, on Saturday.
Why was she killed and dumped near the institution? Who killed her? Who were the last people she spoke to?
Those are some of the questions detectives must answer, if Kiita will rest in peace and justice served.
Kiita had apparently resisted joining her friends back to the campus on the fateful date, “and instead wanted to proceed towards town.”
Where was she going?
“Investigations are ongoing and all those involved will be brought to book,” Juja police boss Simon Thirikwa told Capital FM News.
He did not, however, reveal whether detectives have recovered the late Kiita’s phone, to retrieve any information that can help pin down the culprits.
According to a detective involved in the ongoing investigations, the student was killed somewhere else only for her body to be dumped near the school.
“There is more to it,” the detective said.
In a duration of four months, JKUAT has lost two students.
While Kiita’s death is shrouded in mystery, another student was stabbed to death early in May.
– Worried students –
As established by Capital FM News, many of the students reside off campus due to the apparent shortage of accommodation facilities at the university.
Only a meagre 2,000 are accommodated within the school, with tens of thousands others left out.
While some have resorted to stay in adjacent apartments, they must deal with insecurity, streets with crater-like potholes and to crown it all, they are poorly lit.
“As ladies, we really don’t feel safe being around Juja especially in the evening. We are forced to stay indoors during the night, meaning we cannot use some of the school facilities like the library,” Doreen Maruba, a student at JKUAT said.
And the only survival tactic left at their disposal, she said, it is, “walking in the company of male students. But then, that does not guarantee your security since you will still have to worry about being mugged.”
As a result, “my parents are particularly worried. By 8pm, my dad has to call to ensure I am in the house.”
Her sentiments are shared by many other students who say, theirs is more of a “gamble between studying and staying alive.”
According to JKUSA chairperson Ibrahim Boru, only increased police patrols outside the school will help reverse the current worrying trend.
“So many cases go unheard but that doesn’t mean we are safe,” the student leader said.
He has called for enhanced lighting in all the streets used by the students.