Police in Igembe North are holding a 28-year old man linked to the hacking to death of a high school teacher who had been in a relationship with his estranged wife.
Police in Mutuati arrested Lawrence Mithika Ntarangwi at his house, where they found a bloodied ‘c-line’ machete believed to have been used in the crime.
Mr Mithika is accused of killing teacher Duncan Munyua Kalwilo in Tamani village, Meru County, on Wednesday night.
The teacher of mathematics and business studies at Bishop Njenga Secondary School in Taita Taveta was waylaid while returning home from the market at around 8.30pm.
Igembe North Chief Benson Omondi said he suffered two cuts in the face and the back of his neck and that his body was dumped next to a local watering point for livestock.
The killer sent a message to the man’s lover, Ms Pauline Muthoni, informing her that he had been injured and left by the road. The family found him dead when they arrived at the scene so they alerted police.
Police said on Friday that Ms Muthoni and Mr Mithika got separated two years ago but that they were looking into the case of a love triangle since.
Ms Muthoni’s father, Silas Kaburwa, said he received dowry from the man who lived about 500 metres from his home but that Mr Mithika voluntarily took his daughter back after the marriage failed.
He said Mr Muthoni met the teacher in May and that they lived together in her shop in Mutuati town, about 100 metres from her former husband’s house.
Ms Muthoni said they had been receiving chilling messages addressed to her boyfriend and father, demanding a refund of the dowry from someone identified only as James.
The shop was set on fire days after she received a message saying she would “see fire”.
She said, “We have been living in fear since the messages said someone would be killed. We don’t know what will happen next and we are very afraid. The sender said he was owed money and accused my boyfriend of snatching his wife from him.”
Her father confirmed receiving the messages and said he reported the matter at Mutuati Police Station but that no progress had been made so he was frustrated.
One of the messages read: “Kaburwa,mimi siwezi letea mtoto wako vitu na gunia aweke kwa duka yake halafu akatae kunilipa. Mimi mpaka sasa, simtaki, nataka hiyo shilingi. Mimi naitwa James, na sina ugomvi na wewe, mtoto wako amekula shilingi yangu halafu akanigeuka akapendana na kijana anaitwa Munyua. Sasa, nitaua mtu. Nko hapo nje na usinilaumu (Kaburwa, I cannot bring your child a sackful of items for her shop and go without payment. I don't want her, just the money. My name is James and I don't have a problem with you. Your child has used my money and then turned against me and fallen in love with a man called Munyua. Now I will kill someone. I'm out here ... don't blame me)."
Ms Muthoni’s uncle, Mr Kainga M’Ithae, said Mr Munyua reported the threat on his life to police but that he was not taken seriously.
“The family has been receiving the messages for about two months yet nothing has been done. It seems tracking was not done. Police also took long before visiting the scene and when they arrived, they told us he could have been killed at the in-law’s home and taken to the scene,” he said.
“We have lost a very resourceful person. The culprits must be brought to book and the police officers transferred because they have failed in their duty.”
Ms Muthoni and her parents on Friday recorded statements at Kabachi Police Station.
Mr Omondi said they were following crucial leads and believed the crime was committed by more than one person.
He said they were confident they would arrest more suspects.
"This crime is related to something that happened in the area, not at school in Taita Taveta. We urge the culprits to surrender and members of the public to volunteer information as it will be treated in confidence," he said.