At what point does love turn into hate so consuming that one would end up killing a person they once promised to love for the rest of their lives? This is probably a question many ask whenever a story is published in the media about a man brutally killing his wife or a woman paying hitmen to gun down her husband.
Over the past couple of years, there have been many such stories that shocked the nation and had many questioning whether love really exists between couples.
At the heart of almost all these incidents is infidelity and money, though if you asked Dr James Kariuki, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Nairobi, rarely do people kill their spouses because of infidelity.
“Most kill because of property, not infidelity. Murders motivated by infidelity are very rare, after all, you need a short time to either replace your cheating spouse or cheat yourself, to get back at your husband or wife,” he says.
Doesn’t love count at all then?
“What people call love is a temporary state of mind. People don’t fall in love, they fall in love with what they can get from that person. And no, there is nothing like love at first sight, what you fell in love with was, for instance, the potential in that man. When your dreams are shattered or blocked by another man or woman that comes into the picture, someone that prevents you from attaining your goal, social strain occurs, and at that point, you are likely to engage in some criminal activity in retaliation, including killing,” says the sociologist.
He also points out that many more husbands and wives are slowly killing one another in ways that may not be overt.
“The truth is that many people are killing their spouses slowly by subjecting them to stress. If you have no peace of mind at home, one day, consumed by stress that makes you absent-minded, you get knocked down by a car and die — what is reported is that you died in a road accident, yet it was the pressure from your spouse that is to blame for your death,” says Dr Kariuki.
Below are some of the murders that shocked the nation.
In an unlikely story that made headlines in 2016 and got Kenyans talking for weeks afterwards, a secondary school principal, Ms Jane Muthoni, was charged with the murder of her husband, Mr Solomon Mwangi, who was also a principal of a secondary school.
Mr Mwangi’s body was discovered in a coffee farm in Juja, Kiambu County.
His hands bound together, he had been strangled using a sisal rope.
In a murder that was described as “brutal, chilling and cold-blooded” by the presiding judge, one of the suspects turned state witness, Mr Joseph Kariuki Njuguna, narrated how Ms Muthoni’s co-suspect, Mr Isaac Ng’ang’a, alias Gikuyu, took a sisal rope that had been under the seat of the car that was used to ferry the victim to the scene of the crime and put it round his neck.
They then jointly dragged Mr Mwangi — who had earlier been drugged by his wife, rendering him unconscious — from the car and deep into the woods, tied up his hands, tightened the rope on his neck and hanged him on a tree before wrapping his body in gunny bags once he was dead.
SIX MONTHS PLANNING
According to the witness, the murder had taken six months of planning. Initially, the court would hear, Ms Muthoni, who headed Icaciri Girls Secondary School in Gatundu, Kiambu, had wanted her accomplices to kill a woman she suspected of having an affair with her husband before changing her mind and directing them to kill her husband instead.
The former principal had agreed to pay the three men Sh400,000 for the deed, and had made a down payment of Sh100,000 — she did not keep her end of the bargain, though, switching off the phone she had used to contract them for the job once they completed it.
As it turned out, fleecing the contracted killers was the worst mistake she could have made, because once arrested by the police, Mr Njuguna, one of the co-conspirators, who must have been bitter for having been short-changed, sang like a canary.
In return for helping the police to unravel the murder, Njuguna was sentenced to seven years in prison. Ms Muthoni has been in custody since November 2016 together with Mr Isaac Ng’ang’a.
Another suspect, Mr Nelson Magati, is still being sought by the police.
The court will on October 31 deliver its ruling on this case, which has run for three years.
Beryl Adhiambo Ouma
In February this year, Mr Laiko Osuri was arrested after being suspected of killing his wife, Ms Beryl Adhiambo Ouma, in their house in Kahawa Sukari estate, Nairobi.
The post-mortem examination by Government Pathologist Peter Ndegwa showed that Ms Ouma died of strangulation.
The report also revealed that before her death, she had suffered injuries to her head as well that were as a result of being hit by a blunt object at least six times.
Neighbours who heard Ms Ouma’s screams and her calls for help say she was beaten by her husband for more than four hours.
Nobody came to her rescue. The case is still pending in court.
Lawyer Robert Chesang’
In March this year, a magistrate, Ms Pauline Maisy Chesang’, was arraigned in court over the murder of her husband, lawyer Robert Chesang’, which took place in their home in Machakos.
Ms Chesang was arraigned alongside three police officers and a driver.
The lawyer, who was 45 at the time of his death, was shot dead in his house in Moke Gardens, Lukenya, in February this year.
According to police reports, two armed assailants drove to the estate, where they first immobilised the watchman by tying him up and then driving to the couple’s house.
It is said that one of the assailants knocked on the door, and when Mr Chesang’ peeped through the window to ascertain who it was, the assailant shot him.
A post-mortem exam showed that Mr Chesang’, whose body was found close to the window, died of excessive bleeding. Seven spent cartridges were found at the scene.
Investigations also showed that the car that took the killers to the lawyer’s house had been seen at the estate three times before the murder took place. Although the motive of the killing has not been established, investigators are pursuing the possibility of a domestic dispute.
Mr Chesang’ is said to have had long-standing differences with his wife, who had previously accused him of domestic violence, cases she had reported.
In June this year, Ms Chesang’ and her co-accused were released on Sh500,000 cash bail and two sureties of Sh1 million.
In November 2017, Ms Maryann Mumbi, variously described as the wife/girlfriend of late rugby player Mike Okombe, was arrested and arraigned in court with another person over the death of the player.
According to reports, Ms Mumbi stubbed Mr Okombe following an argument the two had at a party they had been invited to by a friend.
According to a witness, Mr Vincent Omondi, Ms Mumbi stabbed Mr Okombe in the chest using a kitchen knife, leading to his death.
“We were seated round a table in the dining room playing a game of asking and answering questions. An argument ensued, forcing some of us to move out and leave the deceased in the house. He, however, followed us and tried to beat Ms Mumbi, before they were separated,” said the witness.
An autopsy carried out by Government Pathologist Titus Ngulungu revealed that Mr Okombe died due to internal bleeding after he was stabbed four times on different parts of his body.
The report showed the player had four wounds in the chest, head, back and cheek.
Ms Mumbi and the second accused, Calvin Okoth, in whose home the incident took place, are out on a Sh300,000 bond each.
The hearing of the case is coming up on September 26.
In a case that horrified the nation back in 2018, 24-year-old Lucy Njambi was rescued by Good Samaritans who found her barely alive, abandoned in a coffee plantation near Kamiti Corner on the Ruiru-Kiambu Road.
Ms Njambi, who had been tortured, was barely alive. She died several days later, but not before she allegedly revealed who was behind the heinous act — her estranged husband Samuel Ndung’u, a former MCA for Riruta ward in Nairobi.
A post-mortem exam would reveal that she had been raped, beaten up and forced to drink acid, which she was also doused in, and left to die.
Relatives say that Ms Njambi was unhappy in her marriage, and that she had repeatedly accused her husband, with whom she had a son, of physically assaulting her, using abusive language on her and accusing her of infidelity.
He and two others allegedly kidnapped her from her home in Thindigua estate on Kiambu Road on January 24 at around 8pm, after which the heinous crime was committed.
According to reports, a witness told the court that Ndung’u suspected Ms Njambi of having an affair, and had vowed to “put the matter to an end”. Mr Ndung’u and his co-accused are out on bail.