The country was Saturday thrust into mourning following the sudden death of Makueni Senator and former Cabinet minister Mutula Kilonzo at his ranch in Maanzoni, Machakos County.
Mr Kilonzo was found dead in bed yesterday at around 11 am by his workers. Brother-in-law Chris Musau, who was the first relative to arrive at Mr Kilonzo’s home, confirmed the death after he was notified by the workers.
Police and medical personnel were called in to investigate what had caused the sudden death that left the family devastated and the country searching for answers.
Mr Kilonzo arrived at the ranch on Friday at around 3 pm as is his routine on most weekends when he does not have engagements that would keep him away. The workers said he was in a jovial mood when he arrived at the ranch driving himself.
“He alighted and went round the flower beds, giving instructions here and there on how the place should look,” a worker said.
He was alone and inspected the ranch before he was served dinner at around 7 pm. The rest of his family lives in Nairobi and the former Education minister visits the ranch regularly.
According to the workers who cannot be named because they were instructed not to speak to the media, the Senator went to bed immediately after dinner. He had been served githeri (a meal of maize and beans) but instead asked to be given roast meat.
He ate alone and then retired for the night. Breakfast was served yesterday morning but the workers noticed that Mr Kilonzo had not touched it at around 10 am which they found unusual.
After calling him out without an answer, they proceeded to his bedroom that had not been locked and found him lying in bed with foam covering his mouth. There was vomit in the sink in his bathroom.
The workers then rushed to call Mr Musau who heads the Maanzoni Lodge located about five kilometres away from Mr Kilonzo’s ranch. On arrival, Mr Musau tried to wake him up but the Senator did not respond.
He then rushed to the hotel where members of the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) were holding a conference and called in doctors who accompanied him back to Mr Kilonzo’s home where they confirmed he was dead.
Family members, close relatives and various leaders were then called with information about the death.
In the afternoon, Mr Musau emerged from the house to brief the media.
“For now all we can confirm is that Mr Kilonzo is dead,” Mr Musau, speaking on behalf of the family, said.
His son Mutula Kilonzo Junior, daughter Kethi Kilonzo and wife Nduku Kilonzo had arrived at the ranch from Nairobi.
Mr Kilonzo’s house was immediately secured by police officers as investigations got under way to establish the cause of the death that shocked the country.
As at 6 pm last evening, Mr Kilonzo’s body was still at his ranch as medical and police investigators got down to establishing the possible cause of death.
The team of doctors included a government pathologist and his personal physician.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Machakos County Senator Johnstone Muthama, Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, Mavoko MP Patrick Makau and Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka were among the first leaders to arrive at the ranch.
Mr Musyoka said it was difficult to say what exactly happened.
“We leave it to the team of doctors who have come to work on the body and we hope that they will get down to the bottom of the matter,” he said.
“The death of Mutula has shaken us all and is one of the most unexpected news. It’s hard to say anything,” Mr Musyoka said.
Mr Odinga described the death as a tragedy coming soon after the Senate opened its door for business where Mr Kilonzo served.
He revealed that he had lunch with Mr Kilonzo on Thursday in Nairobi.
“At this moment, speculation is high but we ask Kenyans to remain calm. We in the Cord coalition will do everything possible to make sure that the truth of Mr Kilonzo’s death is told,” he said.
“It is a big loss for the Cord team as Mr Kilonzo was a pillar and central to our operations.”
CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro said the cause of death could not be immediately established but the police would liaise with pathologists to establish what happened.
All the persons who interacted with him last will record statements with the police, Mr Muhoro said.
Later the body was moved to Lee Funeral Home.
“Since the circumstances surrounding the death were not very clear, it was necessary that proper investigations be carried out to establish the cause,” he said.
Police said that a pathologist was called in since he would be better placed to handle the samples to avoid contamination, and conduct preliminary investigations at the scene.
According to the pathologist, Dr Johansen Oduor, who was at the home, the body had no marks of physical injuries. Dr Oduor collected samples from the bedroom and the sink and later escorted the body to Lee Funeral Home.