Three relatives suspected to be behind the theft of Sh50 million from the Thika KCB Bank branch last week have been charged in court even as details of their arrest and recovery of part of the cash remained a mystery.
Thieves accessed the bank’s strong room after digging an underground tunnel a week ago and made away with the money.
The three suspects, Halford Munene Murakaru, 32, his brother Charles Mwangi Murakaru, 30, and their cousin, Julius Ndungu Wainaina, 30, were arrested on Saturday at Marurui in Kasarani, Nairobi, following a tip off to the police.
The suspects, who appeared emotionless, were Monday charged with breaking into the bank and stealing money as well as handling stolen money after they were linked to an estimated Sh20 million that was recovered from a rented residential house in Juja on the same day they were arrested.
According to the charge sheet, on diverse days between November 18 and 20, the three, jointly with others not in court, broke and entered the bank through an underground tunnel and stole Sh52.65 million.
They denied the charges before Chief Magistrate Teresia Murigi, who remanded them until November 30 when a determination on whether they will be released on bond will be made.
This was after the prosecution, led by State Counsel Stella Oyagi, successfully applied to have them detained on grounds that they were likely to interfere with the case if released and that they were likely to flee.
Ms Oyagi said reliable reports indicated that before their arrest, they were planning to leave the country.
Mr Samuel N’gan’ga, who is the bank’s branch manager, has been listed as one of the witnesses in the case.
Mr Munene is a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology while Mr Ndung’u graduated with a degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Nairobi.
Mr Mwangi declined to disclose to the police the university he went to, although he is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, and, together with his brother, they are reported to have studied at Nyeri High School where they scored As.
Police said the three were behind the leasing of a stall in a commercial premises next to the bank, ostensibly to run a bookshop, although there is a mastermind and the officers said they are following leads that will lead to his arrest.
Thika police boss Willy Simba and the region’s head of criminal investigations Mr Linus Owango declined to give the exact circumstances of the arrest of the three suspects and the subsequent recovery of the money, only saying that the suspects led them to where the money was hidden.
According to Mr Simba, the suspects, who in the entire court process managed to hide their faces, had rented a house in Marurui estate which is in Kasarani division.
Neighbours who became suspicious of them notified the police and after being interrogated, the suspects led them to the Juja house where they found the cash stuffed in plastic tanks.
However, Mr Simba declined to reveal what made the neighbours in Marurui suspicious.
He also did not reveal their connection with a women who is reported to have rented the house where the money was found.
On his part Mr Owango, said the money and the suspects were found in both Juja and Marurui although the latter did not appear in the charge sheet.
The suspect’s lawyer, Zacy Opiyo, while applying for bond, told the court that he was informed that the suspects were arrested in a house in Thika.
The landlord of the house where the money was recovered told Nation that last week, a lady approached the caretaker with the intention of renting one of the units and brought some of the items which may have included the money into the house.
The arrest of the three brings to five the number of suspects arrested in connection with the heist.
The caretaker and the custodian of the keys to the commercial premises where the suspects had leased a stall were arrested and arraigned in court last week and the police were allowed to continue detaining them to facilitate investigations.