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Wife in custody after murder of school principal

Tuesday November 15 2016

By GUCHU NDUNG'U
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By MARTIN MWAURA
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When Kiru Boys Secondary School Principal Solomon Mwangi and his wife Jane Mbuthia left the school’s living quarters on November 5, one would have assumed they were only looking forward to seeing their three children at their Kiambu home.

But now, slightly over a week later, Mr Mwangi is dead and his wife is in police custody facing a murder charge.

On Monday, the body of the principal, who went missing last week, was identified at City Mortuary in Nairobi, while Ms Mbuthia, the principal of Ichachiri Girls Secondary School in Kiambu County, was arrested in connection with the death.

Mr Mwangi’s remains were found on a coffee farm in Karugato, Kiambu County.

Police on Monday asked a court in Murang’a to let them hold Ms Mbuthia for 14 days, saying she is the main suspect in the murder. The court allowed seven days and ordered the case to be mentioned on November 21.

Initial investigations show that the principal was strangled and his body dumped on the farm.

BODY FOUND BY WATCHMAN

Mr Mwangi had failed to collect the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination papers for his school from the Murang’a County commissioner’s office on November 7, prompting police to start searching for him.

According to Murang’a county commissioner John Elungata, his body was found by a watchman at the farm on Friday evening. 

The guard reported the discovery to the Juja Police Station and his body was transferred to City Mortuary. “Relatives and colleagues identified him at the weekend,” said Mr Elungata. 

The search had escalated to a large-scale manhunt that involved MPs, teachers, education officials and the police.

“All angles should be examined or we will ask House committees to deal with the matter,” said Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau.

It all started on November 4, when Mr Mwangi's wife came to visit him at Kiru Boys, which is sandwiched between tea plantations in Kiriaini.

Normally, Ms Mbuthia would visit on Fridays and leave with her husband on Saturday for their home in Kiambu, where they live with their three children. 

“He was looking forward to administering [the] KCSE exam the following week,” his deputy Simon Mburu told teachers during a prayer session.

PREPARE FAMILY FOR THE WORST

Education officials said the couple were seen in Murang’a having a meal on Saturday. On Sunday, the principal even called a cleric from Mathioya over planned prayers the priest was to say for students in readiness for the KCSE exams that Monday.

According to Mr Elungata, his wife dropped him off at Witeithie centre on Sunday, November 6, at 3pm.

“That is the last time we heard from him and we suspect that is when things started going wrong,” said Mr Elungata, who added that they were also following clues at Witeithie.

Police are said to be holding a vehicle they said was used in the operation. Queries have been raised on why the crime was reported in Nairobi and not Murang’a, where the couple had come from, or Kiambu, where they were heading.

On Tuesday, school principals went to General Kago Mortuary to look for his body after searching for him in vain at several police stations.

Principals and education officials described Mr Mwangi as a hard-worker who had transformed the school both academically and in sports.

“Mr Solomon Mwangi was a go-getter, with a track record of turning around schools he was posted to head,” said TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia.

When a Nation reporter asked Ms Mbuthia about the progress of the search then, she replied, “I will not talk now. I have gone to prepare my family for the worst,” she said.