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Hired driver charged with Mary Wambui murder

Thursday February 7 2019

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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A third suspect in the murder of Mary Wambui Kamangara was arraigned in the Kiambu Law Courts yesterday.

The court allowed detectives to hold him in custody for seven more days as they conclude investigations.

Police said Mr Michael Githae Mathenge, who they believe used his Toyota Noah to dispose of the body, had been known to Ms Judy Wangui Mungai for two years, during which he often provided her with car-hire services.

Ms Wangui and her lover, Wambui’s husband Joseph Kori Karue, are also in custody helping with investigations. The case will be mentioned on February 13.

Mr Githae was arrested on Monday afternoon after being lured into a police trap. He appeared before Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo, but did not take plea.

COMPLICIT

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Investigating officer Cornelius Arwasa told Ms Atambo that preliminary findings show that Mr Githae could have been “involved or participated in the commission of the offence”.

Mr Githae lives in Ruaka and runs Mipals Travel Adventures and Hire on Kimathi Lane, Nairobi.

He told police that he has known Ms Mungai as a customer since 2016. Ms Mungai, he said, had earlier on the day of the murder, January 26, asked Mr Githae to expect some business.

Police believe the “business” was disposing of the body using his car — a KCK registration series — which despite being captured on CCTV entering Fourways Junction Estate, where Ms Mungai has a home, and in which Ms Kamangara was apparently killed, has not been found. Police are looking for it.

A car driven by Ms Wangui — a white Mercedes registration number KCC 068U — had also gone missing for two days before it was recovered in Kwa Maiko, a trading centre in Githunguri, Kiambu County. The car is now in police custody.

EVIDENCE

In a sworn affidavit, Mr Arwasa told the court that evidence gathered so far indicated Ms Mungai was at the scene of the murder around the time the incident happened.

He also said Ms Mungai and Mr Githae were in constant communication after they left the estate soon after midnight.

“We got footage and other evidence showing the respondent [Mr Githae] was in Four Ways Junction Estate during the suspected time of the [murder] and that he was in constant communication with another suspect Judy Wangui Mungai on the night of January 26 up to about 3am on January 27.

“We [also] have evidence showing the respondent [Mr Githae] went to Juja area where the body of the deceased was discovered later that day [January 27],” Mr Arwasa told the court.

Through his lawyer, Mr David Nyamu, Mr Githae requested to be released on bond pending the conclusion of the investigations. He argued that there were no compelling reasons for his continued detention.

CAR ABANDONED

Ms Atambo rejected the application, saying, the matter under investigation was “weighty”, and police needed to be given a chance to handle it conclusively.

Police have confiscated Mr Githae’s phone for forensic examination at the DCI Cyber Crime Unit with a view to retrieve the communication between him and Ms Mungai and any other person during the period of interest.

Mr Githae’s registered mobile numbers have also been forwarded to the Safaricom head office for analysis.

According to police sources, the suspect also hired a car — a KCE series — which Ms Mungai used to drive to Ms Wambui’s home at Safari Park Garden and later to Homeland Inn, Thika Road, where she left it on claims that it failed to start.

According to the footage, Ms Wambui and Ms Mungai, after a merrymaking session at Homeland Inn, arrived at the estate at 6.24pm using the former’s white Mercedes Benz saloon car.

They were captured being cleared at the main gate.

Police are also investigating the circumstances under which the Mercedes Benz was driven and abandoned at Kwa-Maiko Trading Centre, which is about 22km from where the killing is believed to have taken place.