Irate residents of Kamaindi Location in Tharaka-Nithi County have killed their chief, Japhet Mayau Mukengu, by cutting him into pieces and then setting his body on fire following a prolonged dispute.
Confirming the bizarre incident which happened on Tuesday evening, Tharaka-Nithi County Commissioner Beverly Opwora said police have launched investigations.
“According to the reports, the chief was killed by angry residents but our officers are on the ground gathering information to ascertain the allegations,” said Ms Opwora.
County Police Commander Charles Mbatu remained tight-lipped on the progress of investigations.
According to sources that declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, the residents were angered after the chief’s brother, Gikware Mukengu, detained some goats belonging to a resident, Gitonga Kibuibe, who went missing in December 2018 and his skeleton found in the nearby River Thuci three weeks ago.
The goats had reportedly trespassed into Mr Mukengu’s land.
It is said that Mr Kibuibe had gone to bathe in the river on December 12, 2018 but never returned home and villagers alleged that he was killed by the chief’s brother.
Locals said after the chief’s brother declined to release the goats, the villagers sought the intervention of Igambang’ombe deputy county commissioner who reportedly sent the chief to handle the matter.
Before the chief arrived, hundreds of angry residents stormed Mr Mukengu’s home baying for his blood but he managed to escape.
Not aware of what had happened to his brother, the chief arrived and, immediately, the irate mob descended on him, slashed him with pangas before setting his body on fire.
“The chief, his brother and their sons have not been in good terms with the villagers who accuse them of torturing them and grabbing their lands,” said the source.
The source added that the two brothers had grabbed several parcels of land from poor villagers.
Reports indicate that a day after the Mr Kibuibe went missing, Mr Mukengu and his sons fenced off part of the river where the remains were found on April 4, 2019, barring villagers from fetching water or watering their animals as they used to do before.
This triggered a demonstration by the villagers prompting the Igambang’ombe deputy county commissioner to visit the village and held a peaceful meeting.
According to residents, the skeleton believed to be that of Mr Kibuibe was found between two rocks inside the water and some pieces of sack and clothes were recovered from the scene, making them believe that he was killed and his body put in the sack.
However, police have disputed the reports.
Chuka/Igambang’ombe OCPD Joseph Kavoo said he was not aware that some pieces of sack and clothes were found where the remains were recovered.
He added that Mr Kibuibe’s relatives had not recorded a statement on the alleged murder.
On April 25, 2019, just a day before the remains were buried, the villagers held demonstrations demanding justice for Mr Kibuibe’s family.
They also accused police and the local administration of taking no action on the matter despite the fact that the sons of the chief and the brother had continued to threaten them.
They also claimed that the chief’s sons had a list of people from the village whom they had vowed to kill.