George Kirubi looks remarkably composed for a grieving widower who lost his wife to a police shooting just four days ago.
He looks every inch the successful city businessman with a few properties in Nairobi’s downtown.
Today, he is wearing a sharp silver suit, a red-and-white stripped shirt, stylish brown shoes and completes the look with a gold chain with a pendant simply written “F” and a gold ring on his left ring finger.
It is business as usual for the husband of Janet Wangui Waiyaki, the woman who was shot dead in a morning police shoot out at Nairobi’s City Park. Our interview is constantly interjected by business calls that involve Mr Kirubi dolling out instructions to people on the other end of the line.
We tracked him down at his business – Gloria Hotel – a hotel and a nightclub located at the junction of Ronald Ngala and Tom Mboya streets. Mr Kirubi welcomes us to the first floor of the building – Gloria House — which he also owns, and takes us to the “club” section of the hotel. From the look of it, the hotel is undergoing a serious renovation, with swanky new soft leather seats and shiny brown tiles.
“I did not kill my wife,” he says “Now why would I kill Janet? Of what benefit would it be for me to kill the mother of my three children? If I killed my wife, who would raise my three young children?”
The love story of Janet Wangui and George Kirubi started 16 years ago. Both of them were in the hotel industry and were situated in town — Mr Kirubi, a hotel owner and Janet working at a hotel.
They hit it off almost immediately and Janet agreed to become George’s second wife. Together, they have three children aged 13, four and two.
When the two lovebirds got married, Mr Kirubi asked Janet to leave her job and opened a massive business for her at the ground floor of his building, Gloria House.
Janet’s shop “Fay mobile and accessories” traded in mobile phones and women’s beauty accessories.
A proud polygamist, Mr Kirubi readily admits that it is no secret that he had two wives — who lived close to each other in Nairobi’s Donholm estate. The two women know each other, the children visit each other often and he manages to split his time equally between the two “bomas” and his bar business.
“Even today, I am from both homes. Both families knew about my two wives because I paid dowry for both of them and each family accepted the payment,” he said.
On the day of Janet’s death, Mr Kirubi said he arrived at the home they share with Janet at 9am.
He had travelled over the weekend to his rural home for a burial and arrived home on Sunday morning.
When he found that wife was not at home, he tried to call her but her phone went unanswered. He says the house-help told him that Janet left the house early that morning.
At around 11am, Mr Kirubi received a phone call from a friend telling him to rush to Avenue Park Hospital because his wife had been shot.
“I did not even get to the hospital,” he recalled. “Another friend called me to tell me that Janet was dead.”
Mr Kirubi said he did not accompany Janet’s body to City Mortuary. Instead, he returned home to be with his children and saw his second wife’s body for the first time on Tuesday when he was witnessing the post-mortem. The family of Janet suggested that their marriage was marred with violence and frequent disagreements that often led to Janet returning to her parents’ house. Mr Kirubi denies all these allegations.
“You know families…they never lack squabbles. Couples fight. But she never went back to her parents because of a fight. She was a very good mother to our children,” he said.
He also responded to rumours that he might have used the police to assassinate his wife, whom he suspected of cheating on him. Members of Janet’s family suggest a very close relationship between Mr Kirubi and several senior police officers.
“They say that I am friends with the DCIO Parklands. Yes, he is my friend for many years. He even knew Janet. I also know the DCIO of Kamukunji and even Kinoti (Director of Criminal Investigation boss) is also my friend. But does that mean I killed my wife?” he asked.
However, it was the unusually close relationship between Janet and her companion Mr Chege — who is the son of Mr Kirubi’s brother — that really bothered Mr Kirubi.
Mr Kirubi makes it very clear that he was uncomfortable with the closeness of Janet and Mr Chege. What could an aunt and a nephew who is 15 years younger be possibly talking about all the time? he wondered.
Mr Kirubi said he approached Janet’s mother and Mr Chege’s mother and asked them to warn Janet and Mr Chege against the relationship. “Yes I complained to Wangui’s mother and sister as well as Chege’s mother—who is my late brother’s wife —that I do not want that relationship between Chege and Wangui,” he said.
Mr Kirubi says that Mr Chege is like a son to him and would often visit the family.
“If it is true that those two had a sexual relationship… even the Bible is against that and the Bible says that people who engage in such sin are not supposed to be alive.”
He, however, maintains that he is an innocent man and has co-operated with the police in recording statements. “What is important is that I accept that she is gone. Although I am in a lot of pain. This is the Lord’s doing,” he said.