The man who died after driving into the Indian Ocean at the Likoni channel had allegedly threatened to kill himself on several occasions over marital woes, the Nation has learnt.
Multiple interviews with relatives and friends of Mr John Mutinda, 46, in Mombasa revealed that the man had suffered abuse at the hands of his wife which made him to repeatedly say he would commit suicide.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer at Central Police Station, where one of the couple’s assault cases was reported, said Mr Mutinda was a ''man under siege''.
“I am the one who handled the case. I summoned the man here after his wife had reported him over assault and disturbance but, after interrogation, I realised that their quarrel had happened in Likoni and I ordered them to go report it there,” said the officer who is not allowed to speak to the media.
The officer was, however, non-committal when asked if Mr Mutinda was put in police cells for four days after his wife Ruth reported the matter to the station.
A relative, who was close to Mr Mutinda, however, insists the man was locked up at the police station for several days.
“I went there to see him and, after he was released, we took him home to treat the wounds he had suffered after he was scalded with hot water,” said the relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation by the family.
The relative further said that before Mr Mutinda was scalded with hot water, his wife had attacked him using a kitchen knife in February.
He suffered injuries on his shoulder, the relative claimed. Following the assaults, Mr Mutinda made another report at Likoni Police Station, saying he feared for his life.
“We went ahead to look for a counsellor because of what he was going through. At this time, he kept threatening that he would throw himself into the Likoni channel,” the relative said.
Ruth acknowledged that the couple had marital problems but declined to comment further on the matter.
She had earlier said her husband drove to the Likoni crossing after he received a ''strange call from his dead father''. Mr Mutinda’s family denies this claim.
On Saturday at around 4.20 am, Mr Mutinda made good his threat and plunged his car into the ocean at the Likoni channel.
Mr Mutinda, a clearing and forwarding agent, left his home with his shorts only.
According to the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), Mr Mutinda drove straight into the sea without paying for the ferry ticket and almost ran over a KFS official at the mainland side ramp.
At the time of the incident, the only ferry which was operational was on the island side of the channel. The incident happened on the mainland side. The body was retrieved hours later.
The body was taken to Jocham Hospital mortuary where a postmortem examination was scheduled to be conducted on Wednesday afternoon. The family is set to bury Mr Mutinda on December 21 at their Kyanika village home in Kitui County.
Meanwhile, Mombasa-based Haki Africa has written to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa), urging it to investigate Mr Mutinda’s detention in police cells.
“Haki Africa condemns such acts of unlawful detention and urges Ipoa to investigate the purported misconduct at Central Police Station,” says a statement by the group’s legal officer Rosette Ochoo.