Celebrated television news anchor and reporter Jacque Maribe faces a murder charge for being an accessory in the killing of businesswoman Monica Nyawira Kimani, whose body was found in her house in Kilimani, Nairobi, two weeks ago.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, through his assistant Jacinta Nyamosi, on Monday said Ms Maribe could also face charges related to illegal handling of a firearm after a nine millimetre live bullet was recovered in her bedroom.
Ms Nyamosi said the TV star could face a charge of murder or being an accessory to murder, subject to the completion of investigations.
The news anchor and reporter at Royal Media Services’ Citizen TV could also have crucial information that might help in solving the puzzle of Ms Kimani’s murder, Ms Nyamosi said.
Ms Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, who is being held at Muthaiga Police Station, have been described as prime suspects in the gruesome murder of Ms Kimani.
Mr Irungu was last week presented before Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo, who allowed police to continue holding him at Gigiri Police Station for 10 days as investigations continue.
Mr Brian Kassaine, a mutual friend and neighbour of Mr Irungu and Ms Maribe at Royal Park Estate in Lang’ata, Nairobi, has also been arrested on suspicion that he could be an accomplice after it emerged that Mr Irungu may have used his gun in an alleged attempted suicide.
He was among those who took Mr Irungu to hospital after he shot himself in the chest inside Ms Maribe’s house last Thursday.
It is not clear whether Mr Irungu wanted to commit suicide or lay a false trail when he turned the gun on himself, but detectives suspect a strong link between Ms Kimani’s macabre killing and the gunshot wound on Mr Irungu’s chest, both hours apart.
Kiambu Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku on Monday allowed police to detain Ms Maribe and Mr Kassaine for 11 days to facilitate investigations, which include having some of the items recovered in the journalist’s house taken for forensic and ballistic examination.
Ms Nyamosi said the results will guide the investigating team on what charges to prefer against the TV anchor, who interestingly was the one who broke the news about Ms Kimani’s murder after her body was recovered.
Detectives have placed Ms Maribe, who was arrested on Saturday night, at the centre of an attempt to cover-up the murder of Ms Kimani.
According to them, their investigations have not only established that she and Mr Irungu were together on the day of the murder, but also that some of the key exhibits in the incident were found in her house.
The items, according to chief lead investigator in the murder Maxwell Otieno, include a robe and a jacket worn by Mr Irungu on the day Ms Kimani was slaughtered inside her apartment shortly after arriving into the country from Juba, South Sudan, and which were partly burnt at Ms Maribe’s residence.
Police believe Ms Maribe knew about the attempt to conceal evidence by burning the garments. It is not clear yet whether she was in the house when the incineration occurred.
Further, her mobile phone, an iPhone 7+ loaded with a Safaricom Sim card, will be subjected to a forensic examination, with the police saying its report could contain crucial material in relation to the murder investigation.
The TV star was ferried to the Kiambu court precincts at around 8:30am in a Subaru Outback by four detectives.
Her case, in which she was represented by lawyer Katwa Kigen, was the first to be heard shortly after 9am.
Throughout the session, and in spite of the gravity of charges facing her, she appeared unmoved, staring blankly into the forest of cameras in front of her and every now and then attempting a faint smile.
Her family, led by her father Mwangi Maribe, was in court. Mr Maribe also sat through the court proceedings in the case against his daughter’s co-accused, Mr Kassaine, a few hours later.
Within the period during which Ms Maribe will be incarcerated at Gigiri Police Station, police will also extract DNA samples from her and compare them with samples collected at Ms Kimani’s residence as well as the journalist’s Lang’ata house.
The new developments came as it emerged that both Mr Irungu and Ms Maribe, whom police believe were living together at the latter’s residence, may have lied about how the former suffered a wound on the left side of his chest.
On Wednesday last week, while seeking permission to hold Mr Irungu for two weeks to facilitate further investigations, Mr Otieno told Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo that detectives suspected Mr Irungu faked or stage-managed the gunshot wound on his left shoulder to conceal the truth.
Mr Irungu, who was arrested last week after preliminary investigations linked him to the murder, claimed that he was attacked by gunmen as he dropped his fiancée, Ms Maribe, at her house.
He told police that he was exiting Ms Maribe’s Lang’ata estate when he encountered three men who shot him and sped off using a motorbike.
He was taken to several hospitals by Ms Maribe, he added.
But in Mr Otieno’s sworn affidavit, Ms Maribe is said to have told the police that her fiancé attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself after a disagreement between the two of them at 1am on September 21.
Police said investigations show that the gun used in the “shooting” belonged to Mr Kassaine, and that he had a habit of giving his firearm to Mr Irungu, who has previously worked as a security guard in the Middle East.
In her statement, Ms Maribe, who was questioned by detectives at Kilimani Divisional Headquarters and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Kiambu Road thrice, said that after the incident, Mr Irungu rushed to Mr Kassaine’s house, which is within the same compound, and asked Mr Kassaine to go take his gun.
This was corroborated by Mr Kassaine in his statement to the police. He told the police that Mr Irungu woke him up and informed him to go and secure the gun at Ms Maribe’s house.
At the journalist’s house, Mr Kassaine found the gun, 28 bullets, and one spent cartridge, which lay on the floor at the entrance to the walk-in closet in Ms Maribe’s master bedroom.
Mr Kassaine, incarcerated on Monday at Lang’ata Police Station on the court’s orders, said that he, together with his wife Catherine Piyon and Ms Maribe, rushed Mr Irungu to hospital before reporting the matter at Lang’ata Police Station.
This is contrary to what Mr Irungu had earlier claimed — that he was attacked by gunmen after he dropped the TV anchor home.
When police raided the house of Mr Kassaine, they found a Ceska pistol model CZP-70, some 62 bullets, and one spent cartridge hidden in the ceiling.
The items, particularly the gun, are being examined by experts to ascertain their source and whether they have been used to commit other criminal offences in the country.
Police are also seeking to establish whether a person reported to have been in the company of Mr Irungu near the scene of crime when the murder occurred was Mr Kassaine.