The Sh52 million Thika bank heist may have shocked the nation for its movie-like script but not the father of two of the three suspects in police cells.
Titus Murakaru Githui, 59, the father of Halford Munene Murakaru and Charles Mwangi Murakaru, says although he does not approve of crime, he is not surprised that his children may have been involved in the alleged robbery.
Halford and Charles, he believes, could have probably been “wrongly inspired” by stories of corruption and impunity that have become the order of the day in Kenya.
The two brothers, alongside Julius Ndung’u Wainaina, were presented in a Thika court on Tuesday facing charges of stealing Sh52.65 million from Kenya Commercial Bank, Thika branch.
They also faced other charges of handling stolen property.
The accused allegedly gained entry into the bank’s strongroom after digging a 30-metre underground tunnel for over six months.
They denied the charges.
On Wednesday, the Nation visited their rural home in Karura Village, Mathira West, Nyeri County, and for their father, it was business as usual.
Githui, aka Kahiga, a former barber turned full-time farmer, gladly welcomed us quipping: “I know why you are here. What do you want to write this time? What happened is normal.”
In the interview he gave in polished English, Githui appeared unapologetic and unperturbed by the circumstances his two sons find themselves in, describing the heist as a “societal problem.”
He cited the multi-billion-shilling National Youth Service and the Health ministry scandals, saying they could have “inspired’ his sons to engage in the theft (if indeed they were involved).
“The perpetrators of these scandals got away with it. We know them and they are still at large,” he observed.
“How do you tell your children not to do these things when senior government officials engage in blatant theft and get away with it?”
Githui said he knows the third accused person, Julius— whom he said is a regular visitor to his home— only as a friend of his sons and not as a cousin as widely reported in the media.
He last saw the three last month when they visited the Karura Village home.
“We raised our children in a Christian way and moral uprightness but when they go out there they hear of people carrying money in sacks and nothing happens to them, what prevents them from engaging in that kind of vice if they can also get away with it?”
He said he all along knew his sons as “tenderpreneurs with the right business connections” but did he did not suspect of any illegal business.
“I know my sons did not get any formal employment after clearing university. I also know they have a very big network of business partners that engage in securing supply tenders,” he said
He said he learned about the alleged involvement of his sons in the bank heist on TV but he was “not shocked”.
“I have heard about many scandals in this country and I’m, therefore, not surprised that it happened,” he said.
“I heard the late Nichalas Biwott quoted saying ‘I would rather die than remain poor’. This is the Kenya we are living in— corruption and theft is becoming a way of life in Kenya and is badly influencing our children,” he said .
A childhood friend and schoolmate of Halford and Charles at Karura Primary School Kinyua Kimunyu described them as “brilliant and polite”.
The two university graduates scored straight As at Nyeri High School and are, arguably, the brightest in their sleepy village.
“When I saw their names in the newspaper, I was surprised. I still don’t believe they could have been involved in the alleged crime, something might have gone terribly wrong” he said.
Neighbours interviewed by the Nation refused to talk about the two.