Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu Wednesday recounted how she narrowly escaped death when a county fire engine ran into a crowd of supporters killing her staunch ally and former Mayor of Kitui Municipality Martha Mwangangi.
Narrating the incident before Kitui High Court Judge Lilian Mutende, Governor Ngilu said the pattern of events on that fateful day on December 16, 2016 made her believe that she was the target of an assassination attempt and that the former mayor died her death.
Mrs Ngilu was testifying in a case where the fire engine driver, Philip Isika Tito, is charged with the murder of Mrs Mwangangi.
The governor explained that the day began with shocking news that kiosks had been flattened at night by the county enforcement unit and she was invited to address the protesters and joined them at Kalundu market at around 9am.
“I joined the peaceful protest and advised the hawkers on how they could seek redress. We concluded the march by 11am and then I proceeded to dialogue with the police over boda boda issues,” she said.
She told Justice Mutende that the accused knew what he was doing because he could see the crowd from a distance and had all the time to either slow down, hoot or use the truck’s siren to alert the people.
LYING ON FENCE
“I emerged from Kitui Police Station and I was walking towards my car which was parked outside. I heard people shout and the next thing [was that] I found myself lying on the fence having been thrown there by my bodyguard,” she said.
Mrs Ngilu said at first she did not understand what was happening because she had just concluded a fruitful meeting with senior police officers and leaders of boda boda riders and the protesting hawkers had long dispersed.
“Everyone was scampering for safety and I could hear cries of Martha amekanyagwa (Martha has been crushed). I could not believe my eyes when I saw someone under a moving fire-fighting engine,” she said.
“The incident happened in a split second. Martha was beside me as we walked out of the station to our cars. The truck charged on us immediately and I only survived by the grace of God,” the Kitui governor told Justice Mutende.
Her bodyguard had also to jump out of the way after throwing Mrs Ngilu to the fence to avoid being hit by the charging truck.
The governor told the court that on that fateful morning, there was no fire at Kalundu market or anywhere else in town as claimed by the truck driver. She added that he drove towards Wikililye market in the opposite direction after the accident.
“Your honour, when the fire engine was finally intercepted by angry residents, it was established that it didn’t have any water to suggest it was on assignment to put out some fire and he was not accompanied by any fire fighters,” she said.
After Mrs Mwangangi was killed, the driver fled, Mrs Ngilu said.
Mrs Ngilu said in her political career spanning more than 20 years, that Friday was her saddest day as she watched her best friend and key supporter killed mercilessly after peaceful protest.
The former mayor served as the councillor of Kitui Township Ward for three consecutive terms when Mrs Ngilu was the MP for Kitui Central.