“Kabuga will pay for the death of my son. He must pay.”
These are the words of a mother who has been grieving for 17 years.
For Ms Lydia Wangui and the family of William Mwaura Munuhe, there is now a ray of hope following the arrest of Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga.
Mr Munuhe, a freelance journalist and close associate of Kabuga, was one of the closest links the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had in its quest to capture one of the world’s most wanted fugitives back in 2003.
COLD BLOODED MURDER
But days before he could help FBI agents lure Kabuga into a trap, Mr Munuhe was murdered in cold blood in his house in Nairobi.
That would mark the beginning of a 17-year pursuit for truth and justice.
With the arrest of the man believed to be behind their kin’s death, the family now can afford a sigh of relief. But justice is far from being found.
The Nation tracked down the family at their home in Muruguru, Nyeri County.
Ms Wangui is just coming to terms with news of Kabuga’s arrest in France two days ago. For her, it is a mixture of both joy and a painful reminder of her son’s death.
PAIN STILL FRESH
“I could not believe it when I heard that he has been arrested. But the pain is still fresh in my heart. I suffered for a very long time and I continue to feel the pain of having to bury my child. Now it is his turn to suffer,” she said.
For 17 years, this family has pursued justice over their son’s brutal murder, knocking on every door that had power to help and when all offices locally became unresponsive, they sought help overseas.
The family has already sought help from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague but even that has not helped serve them justice.
It has been a long journey filled with anguish, lies and betrayal.
So dangerous was the pursuit for the truth and justice that even Mr Munuhe’s father, a former police officer who died in 2013, could not dare ask questions to his colleagues and superiors regarding his son’s death.
On February 16, 2003, detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) visited their home in Nyeri with the news of their son’s death. They said that the journalist had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. This was the first lie that was given to the family.
“When we went to his house in Karen, they did not even want us to get in. But I demanded to see for myself where he had died. They had already taken the body away,” Ms Wangui said.
She recounted seeing bloody footprints across the living room of the house and her son’s belongings scattered on the floor. Initially, police told her that his body was found on a mattress soaked with sweat.
Scenes from Mr Munuhe’s guest room told a different story and it turned out that the said sweat was actually blood.
“There was a lot of blood on the floor and the bed was broken. All I could think of is how my son suffered a painful death,” she said.
Mr Munuhe’s brother, Josephat Mureithi, was among those who positively identified the body at the City Mortuary. He said that his face had been badly disfigured, possibly from acid burns.
Mr Mureithi has been at the forefront in the fight for justice for his slain brother and feels that Kabuga’s arrest, though significant, is still far from giving the family complete closure.
He still lives in fear of Kabuga’s accomplices. Even with the outlaw in custody, he feels someone is still watching.
“Even journalists who tried asking us about our brother’s death received threats. There is a letter that we found while moving his belongings threatening that we would be killed one after the other. We have always lived in fear and still live in fear because his (Kabuga’a) accomplices are still at large,” Mr Mureithi said.
WRITTEN TO ICC
Mr Mureithi has written to the ICC and now wants his brother’s murder investigated by The Hague-based court and for Kabuga to stand trial.
“I wrote to the ICC and they said that his case would be placed in the archives until new evidence is found. Now is the time to look into the matter,” he said.
While Kabuga might not stand trial for the murder of Munuhe, his family believes the ICC will help deliver justice that has long evaded them.
Given the opportunity, Ms Wangui says she would want to point Kabuga to her son’s grave and remind him of the pain he caused her.
“He has caused so much pain to me and I want him to know that he will pay for it. And I know the many other people he caused pain have their own story to tell,” she said.