A boda boda rider who was murdered in Machakos County alongside human rights lawyer Willie Kimani received death threats twice for cooperating with officials of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the High Court heard on Monday.
Testifying in the murder trial against four Administration Police officers and a police informer, a former investigator at IPOA, Vincent Kirui, said Mr Josephat Mwenda first received death threats in December 2015, when three officers from Mlolongo visited his home at night.
He said the three cops were Fredrick Leliman, a key suspect in the murder, Jane Ngige and former Mlolongo OCS identified as a Mr Wambugu.
Mr Kirui said the three officers warned him against cooperating with IPOA “or they will kill him and his body will never be traced”.
The second threat came on March 30, 2016, three months before Mwenda, his lawyer Kimani and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were murdered and their bodies dumped in a river.
The witness said the officers threatened Mwenda over a complaint he had made against Mr Leliman at IPOA.
Mr Mwenda had accused Mr Leliman of accidentally shooting him in the arm on April 10, 2015 at Mlolongo when he and his friend were stopped by AP officers.
He also alleged that to cover up the shooting, the officers fabricated charges against him.
Mr Mwenda alleged that the police officers administered First Aid on him and rushed him to a nearby dispensary for further medication. He was treated and referred to Machakos Referral Hospital but the officers took him to a private hospital where he was treated and discharged.
He was, however, locked up and spent the weekend in the cells before he was charged on Monday with three counts of possessing bhang, gambling and resisting arrest.
Mr Kirui said the police refused to issue Mr Mwenda with a P3 form until IPOA intervened. He said Mr Leliman was to face charges of assault, illegal wounding and misuse of a firearm.
But because he was adamant, Mr Mwenda was arrested for the second time and more charges – mostly traffic offences – were preferred against him, the witness said.
Mr Kimani worked with the International Justice Mission (IJM) and was representing Mr Mwenda in the case.
On cross-examination by lawyer Cliff Ombetta, Mr Kirui denied claims that Mr Mwenda was armed with a knife and officer Leliman shot him in the arm to immobilise him.
Mr Leliman, Mr Stephen Cheburet, Ms Sylvia Wanjiku and Mr Leonard Maina Mwangi, all AP officers, and Peter Ngugi, a police informant, have denied murdering Mr Kimani, Mr Mwenda and Mr Muiruri.
The three were kidnapped after leaving the Mavoko law courts on June 23, 2016.
Their bodies were recovered one week later in gunny bags at River Athi, near Ol Donyo Sabuk.
The three are suspected to have been tortured.
The hearing continues this morning.