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Likoni tragedy: 'Man received phone call from his late father'

Saturday December 7 2019

John Mutinda

John Mutinda who died at the Likoni crossing channel on December 7, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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A bare chested John Mutinda stormed out of his house in Vanga Estate in Likoni, Mombasa County, at around 4am on Saturday, got into his vehicle and sped off.

Clad in a pair of shorts only, Mr Mutinda knocked down a motorcycle as he sped off towards the Likoni crossing channel before plunging into the ocean.

DISTURBED

Mr Mbithi Matheka, a night guard who Mr Mutinda usually hired to watch over his car, a Toyota Allion, said the 46-year-old clearing and forwarding agent looked disturbed.

“He did not utter a word, he stared at us for some minutes before he got into the car and drove off at high speed,” said Mr Matheka.

Soon after leaving, his wife Ruth Mueni came out to inquire where her husband had gone.

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A neighbour said that at around midnight, Ms Mueni had complained that her husband was behaving strangely.  

“The wife was here complaining, but it was not clear what she was bitter about. She went back to the house, only for the incident to happen later,” said a neighbour.

PHONE CALL

According to Mr Mutinda’s relative, Benard Kieti, the victim told his wife that he had received a call from his late father before leaving the house in a huff.

“He was saying things that his wife could not comprehend when he left. The wife tried to stop him in vain,” said Mr Kieti who spoke on behalf of the family during an interview at the Likoni channel.  

According to Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), Mr Mutinda drove straight into the sea at around 4.20am without paying for the ticket.

As he drove into the sea at high speed, he almost ran over a KFS official. At the time of the incident, the only ferry which was operational was on the Island side of the channel. The incident happened on the mainland side.

Soon after the incident, officers from the Kenya Navy and the Kenya Police Marine swung into action.

VEHICLE TOWED

But it was not until 8am when Kenya Navy divers retrieved the body which was later taken to Jocham Hospital mortuary.

The vehicle was later pulled out of the ocean at around midday by technicians from the Southern Engineering Ltd.

The vehicle was lifted by a crane and put on Mv Kilindini before being towed to the Likoni Ferry Police Station.

On September 29, a vehicle carrying Mariam Kighenda and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu slid off the MV Harambee Ferry and plunged into the ocean.

It took 13 days to locate the car and retrieve the bodies of the two in a recovery mission that also involved a team from South Africa.

Meanwhile, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has condoled with Mutinda’s family following the tragedy.

“I urge ferry users and management to be cautious, we cannot afford to have any more similar casualties,” said Mr Joho in a statement.

Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna hailed the Kenya Navy and members of other agencies for their quick response.

He urged ferry users to follow instructions by KFS at the channel to avert more accidents.