Anyone who speaks of Stephen Ngila Thenge, 34, the man from Machakos County who was recently charged with attempting to kill his wife, Jackline Mwende, 27, but ended up chopping her hands, describes him as a “very good guy”.
A friend of Mr Thenge's, who requested anonymity, described him as “so cool and an excellent youth choir singer” who was brought up in the church and was a youth group member.
“It was a delight when he had a church wedding as he is an exemplary hardworking man as a tailor and even bought land, where he built a house for his family,” the friend told the Nation.
But red flags were raised when he separated from his wife and stopped going to church. “He is like a brother, and hearing what he has done is beyond shock. It is unimaginable.”
Mr Thenge grew up at his uncle’s home, close to his new house that is built atop a hill in Ilenge Village with a beautiful view of Masii Town.
His shell-shocked family are afraid to talk about him. When contacted, they only say, “Wrong number.” Understandably so, because they, like his friends, are trying to come to terms with the horror of the night of July 24.
In addition to losing both hands, Ms Mwende is nursing serious head, neck and back injuries and has lost hearing in her left ear. She lost three teeth.
“She cannot hear on that side because of the panga injury,” her father Samuel Munyoki told the Nation at is home, where Ms Mwende took refuge and is recuperating.
In the meantime, contributions, prayers and words of comfort are pouring in for the family. The Bangladeshi High Commission in Kenya has pledged to provide Ms Mwende with medication for at least three months.
“We will also give her a loan to start a business as well as a job when she gets better, and we will visit her tomorrow (Wednesday)”, Major-General Kalam Humayun Kabir said at the consulate on Tuesday.
LG Electronics East Africa marketing general manager Moses Marji said: “We are willing to support her with prosthetic limbs and take care of her transport from her home to the hospital, admission and treatment. The procedure will be carried out at PCEA Kikuyu Hospital.”
Nation reader Jonah Munyi said in an email he knows a person who “underwent an eerily similar ordeal but is now living a near-normal life despite not having her two limbs.”
Another Nation reader, who did not wish to be identified, said as part of his company’s corporate social responsibility this year, they will give Ms Mwende prosthetic hands and financial support.