They were happy and bubbly children. At home in their world of innocence, they would walk around the estate comfortable in the belief that they were safe.
It was with this confidence that Clifford Nyambane, 6, Dan Nyamweya, 5, and Glen Ongagi, 3, strutted excitedly to the Eldoville Seventh Day Adventist Church last Saturday morning.
Their mother, Ms Ebby Esaji, at home in the town they have lived in for many years, was not worried, even after she failed to spot them in church that morning.
She thought her children had gone to play with the others. She thought they were safe. She was wrong.
Hopes of finding the three boys alive were dashed today after a week-long search ended painfully when their bodies were found at Kitale County Referral Hospital.
The boy’s father, Mr James Ratemo, a Kanu candidate for Kapsoya Ward in the August elections, said a relative identified the bodies at the hospital after the police informed him that they had found the bodies on different days last week.
In an earlier interview on Tuesday, Mr Ratemo had said: “I cannot rule out that the children’ disappearance is related to politics but I cannot speculate. Let police do their own investigations.”
He was unable to speak about his devastating loss.
Police said the bodies of the children were retrieved from River Nzoia near Matunda town, more than 50 kilometres from Kapsoya in Eldoret town where they were last seen last Saturday while on their way to church.
The first body to be found was that of the eldest, which was retrieved on Tuesday and taken to the hospital around 5pm.
The second was discovered on Wednesday, retrieved the same day and taken to the same hospital mortuary in the evening.
The body of the youngest was found on Thursday evening but it was not until today afternoon that it was pulled out of the river.
Upon hearing the sad news that her sons were no more, Ms Esaji collapsed and was taken to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where she was still being attended to this evening.
The bodies were last evening transferred to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary.
Clifford was a Standard One pupil at Highland Grace Academy in Kapsoya estate.
Dan was in baby class at Shalom Academy in the same estate while Glen was yet to start attending school.
Both parents were yet to come to terms with the tragedy last evening.
On Tuesday, Mr Ratemo said he could not rule out their disappearance to his quest to be the ward representative.
However, he said he had not had any differences with his political rivals and wondered why his children should be hurt.
“I’ve not had any differences with my opponents or my neighbours,” he said as he appealed for help to find his children.
The new political dispensation has made positions, especially at the county level, so lucrative that it has spurred do-or-die contests across the country, some of them ending in fatalities.
UNCLE IN CUSTODY
Mr Ratemo’s brother, Enoch, who was last seen with the boys has been in police custody since the children disappeared.
Police are yet to establish whether he was directly involved in the death of the children.
Neither have they found the motive for the macabre killings.
A resident of Kapsoya, who knows Enoch, today claimed he had seen him with the boys on Iten road at 10am.
“I tried to approach him in order to greet him but he was on the other side of the road. So I just proceeded to work but never suspected him of having ill motive,” he said.
Eldoret East OCPD Adamson Furaha told the Nation that the suspect was arranged in court on Monday after he was suspected of kidnapping the children.
Police said they will change the charges to murder after the bodies were found.
“The suspect was remanded until May 23 (Tuesday next week) when the case will be mentioned but after the bodies have been found we are going to change the charge sheet to murder,” Mr Furaha said on phone.
The discovery of the bodies came a day after a ward representative from Baringo, who went missing four days ago, was found dead in Machakos County.
The Churo/Amaya ward MCA, Thomas Minito, was reportedly approached by three people at a hotel in Kabarnet town on Tuesday afternoon when he was having lunch with a government official from Tiaty.
His body was on Thursday evening found floating in River Athi just under the Donyo Sabuk bridge in Machakos County.
It had an injury on his head believed to have been caused by a blunt object.
Reports indicate that the body was retrieved and a small poster found in his coat pocket bearing his name.
According to the Baringo County Assembly Deputy Speaker, Mr Douglas Kiplimo, the men produced identity cards purporting to show they were policemen.
They said he was required to record a statement at the local police station.
“We were informed of his arrest by the lady with whom he was taking lunch with, which prompted us to inquire from the police at Kabarnet,” Mr Kiplimo said.
However, the police in Kabarnet said that there was no MCA who had been taken to the station and no warrant of arrest had been issued either.
Baringo police commandant Peter Ndung’u had on Wednesday said that they had received reports of the missing MCA and they were carrying out investigations on the matter.
When the Nation team visited Baringo County Assembly today, a sombre mood engulfed the premises as the ward representatives talked in low tones.
The MCAs led by Bartabwa ward representative Reuben Chepsongol condemned the incident, saying that the series of killing of leaders from the county was alarming.
“We are now worried for our lives because we have lost two ward representatives in a span of three months.
"We do not know who will be next because our colleague was allegedly arrested by people purporting to be police officers before being found dead,” Mr Chepsongol said.
In February, Loyamorok ward representative Fredrick Cheretei and Tiaty parliamentary aspirant Simon Pepee Kitambaa were shot dead at a night club in Marigat.
“We are yet to even come to terms with the previous killings and those behind it are yet to be known yet another one from Tiaty falls victim of the same.
"We are demanding the police to expedite investigations and tell us who are those targeting leaders from the Pokot community,” Ripkwo/Kositei MCA Daniel Tuwit said.
The missing ward representative had been arrested last month at Kabarnet and taken to Nakuru Central Police Station.
Before the arrest, he was quoted by the media criticising the ongoing security operation to flush out illegal herders from a number of ranches and conservancies in Laikipia County.