Residents of Nyanyaa Village in Mwingi, Kitui County on Friday held a thanksgiving ceremony following the arrest of a man who allegedly masterminded the killing of a dozen people in a single night in the remote village more than two years ago.
Mr John Kilonzo Musyoka alias Karunyu, is suspected to have led a six-man gang that killed 12 people in the hilly village in Waita Division of Mwingi Central District on July 4,2013.
Karunyu, a class five dropout who was born and brought up at Nyanyaa, has been on the run and has been miraculously slipping through the hands of the police until he was arrested in Emali Town, Makueni County early this month after he was allegedly involved in a robbery with violence incident.
He was arraigned in Makindu Law Courts before being remanded in Machakos GK Prison.
All this time police did not notice they had actually arrested the ex-convict since he identified himself as Jackson Mutua Kimanthi and did not have any identification documents on him at the time of his arrest.
Other inmates first identified him before some elders from Nyanyaa were ferried to Machakos two weeks ago where they confirmed to the detectives that he was indeed the one.
As they congregated on Friday for prayers at Nyanyaa market their relief was evident on their faces.
They lauded the government for the persistent manhunt of one of Kenya’s most wanted fugitive.
TEARS OF JOY
And although memories of the midnight massacre were still fresh in their minds, the villagers shed tears of joy as they sang in jubilation, welcoming the arrest of a man who had brought them nightmares and sleepless nights.
“As members of the affected families and the entire village, we have endured difficult times since the attack occurred. But now we thank God for being our solace,” said Ms Tabitha Mwathe Syengo, whose elder brother was killed alongside his wife and their two house helps.
She asked the government to facilitate the education of the orphans left behind after the deadly attack.
“We are now struggling to take care of the children left behind. We have not yet received any aid from the government since we buried their parents,” Ms Syengo lamented.
Her sentiments were shared by other surviving victims like Mr John Mutua and Mr Peter Matiti who expressed fears that Sh420,000 which was raised by leaders who attended the burial ceremony to aid in educating the orphans could have been embezzled by some unscrupulous individuals.
Nation.co.ke established that one of the orphans, Paul Masya Nzomo, 19, who lost both parents in the attack, was forced to drop out of school in 2015 while in Form Two due to lack of school fees.
His uncle, Mr Joel Mwandikwa said the 2013 incident was a big blow not only to the three families that were robbed of their breadwinners but to the entire village.
“The situation here has been very challenging. We have been living in fear and more than 10 families have so far fled the area to find safer places to settle, “he said.
CALL FOR UNITY
But even as the man who has caused agony and trauma to them waits to be arraigned in court in the coming days, the villagers are preaching reconciliation messages while calling for unity.
“Today is a day to forgive each other and live like brothers. Those of us who are lucky to be alive have to live as friends.
“What happened to us two years ago is now gone, let us forge ahead as one people,” said Mr John Mutua.
Mr Mwendwa Musyoka, an elder brother of Karunyu narrated how his family was miraculously spared as the gang descended on the homestead of their other brother Mr Munyoki Musyoka, a short distance away, killing him alongside his three children.
Munyoki’s wife, however, narrowly escaped death with a deep cut on her head after escapimg through a window.
A day after the deadly killings, Karunyu’s mother and wife were lynched in retaliation by an angry mob.
Leaders who attended the Friday event, including Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu, Deputy County Commissioner Stella Langat and the Administration Police boss Richard Cheruiyot assured residents that Karunyu will be kept under tight security until his sentencing.
Mr Mutambu asked the government to promote the area chief Mr Samuel Maithya following his efforts during Karunyu’s manhunt.
“The chief selflessly dedicated himself in unveiling the leads to the suspect’s whereabouts. A commendation letter alone is not enough, I urge the Interior CS, Joseph Nkaissery to ensure he is promoted, even if it is to a post of a senior chief,” he said.