Being doused with petrol and set on fire was not what Lucy Nyira expected when she left Nakuru for Nairobi to buy clothes for her business.
She had always wanted to improve the standard of living of her family as her husband’s income as a motorbike mechanic was not enough.
And so she left Nakuru last Friday aboard a matatu. Her plan, which she had discussed with her husband Bernard Kahira, was to spend the night at a relative’s home, shop for a mitumba bale at Gikomba on Saturday morning and return home.
“As it was his tendency, Kahira asked her to take only an hour to travel from Nairobi to Nakuru but Lucy was caught up in traffic, took longer and arrived at about 7pm,” said Mr George Kuria, a neighbour.
Mr Kahira, 25, was not at home when Lucy arrived. She spent some time at Mr Kuria’s house waiting for him to bring the house keys.
He arrived at about 9pm in a fit of rage. He blamed Lucy for having taken longer to arrive home and for staying at a neighbour’s house.
Neighbours said the couple often quarrelled and Lucy was battered frequently.
“That night Lucy was heard screaming and at some point her voice was faint. Later fire was seen in the house and the smell of petrol wafted through the air,” Mr Kuria said.
Neighbours broke the door and saw Lucy lying on the floor, covered in flames. Kahira was sitting on a chair, silently watching the fire consume her.
“He had beaten her badly, poured petrol on her and burnt her,” Mr Kuria said. “She was unable to call for help. She lay down quietly despite the hot fire.”
Their three-year marriage was troubled and violent, said neighbours. Lucy was rushed to Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where she appeared to be recovering before dying on Friday.
Dr Joseph Mburu, the hospital’s medical superintendent, said she had 25 per cent burns on her body.
She had appeared strong and medics confirmed that she was in a stable condition.
Lucy showed great improvement and was able to tell her mother, Teresiah Ndung’u, the events of that fateful night.
“Doctors and nurses kept a very close watch on her for the period she was admitted here,” said Dr Mburu.
“It’s unfortunate that we have lost her,” he said.
Mr Kahira was arrested and detained at the Central Police Station in Nakuru town.
Nakuru County Police Commander Stephen Matu confirmed that the suspect was in custody pending investigations.
Lucy’s father, Mr Jackson Ndung’u, said he did not approved of his daughter’s marriage to Mr Kahira. “I wanted to talk to his parents, but he kept dodging,” Mr Ndung’u said.
“He always sounded rude even to me. Lucy told me that he was an alcoholic and bhang smoker,” he said.
“He is a quiet but jealous man who does not want to mingle with people,” he said. “Most of his life is secretive.” Her body is lying at the hospital’s morgue.