INTERNATIONAL runner Ezekiel Kemboi was yesterday charged in Eldoret for allegedly stabbing a woman on Wednesday night. Kemboi, the World 3,000 meters steeplechase champion, is due to represent Kenya at the Olympics Games next month in London. He was charged with one count of assaulting and causing bodily harm to 26 year old Ann Njeri during a fight outside her parents' home at West Indies Estate in Eldoret.
The athlete spent three hours recording a statement at Eldoret Police station before going to court under heavy security where he denied the offense. "Its not true," he said when the charge was read to him before Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia. He was represented by lawyers Michael Chemwok and Ledisha Kittonyi.
The magistrate set the hearing date for July 1 but Chemwok pleaded that Kemboi would be in London. Kyambia consequently set the hearing date for September 25. The Olympic mens steeplechase heats only start on August 5 in London. Hundreds of athletes turned up at the Eldoret police station and at court. There was a brief commotion at the police station as some Kemboi supporters attempted to snatch him from the CID officers who were escorting the runner to court. However the officers shoved the athlete into a waiting car and drove off.
In his statement, Kemboi, who is also a police officer, reported that he had been attacked by gangsters as he dropped the woman at her home. He said the woman was stabbed by the gangsters during the scuffle. Njeri was yesterday still admitted at the Mediheal Hospital with a deep wound on the left side of her chest where she was operated. "Both the lady and Kemboi reported their complaints separately", said Eldoret acting OCPD Charles Jamanda.
Njeri's parents recovered Kemboi's identification documents, money and other items outside the gate of their home where the incident occurred, Njeri, who runs a hotel business in Eldoret, said she had been drinking at Signature Pub with Kemboi. The two met two weeks ago. "At the pub Kemboi asked me to join him on his table and I complied. At about midnight I told him that I had to go back home and he offered to drop me," said Njeri from her hospital bed.
She said when they arrived at her gate the athlete refused to let her alight. "I told him that I could not have sex with him because he was a stranger to me even though I knew him but he insisted and started roughing me up," said Njeri. According to her, she tried to open the door of the double cabin pickup but it was locked. "I struggled with him until the doors of the car opened. We fell on the ground as I tried to fight him off. In the process I was also screaming", she said.
She rushed back to the vehicle to pick her bag but claimed Kemboi caught up with her and during another scuffle she felt a sharp object pierce her chest. Her younger sister Millicent had heard her screams and came out of the house to find Njeri struggling with a man. Millicent also screamed for help. As her sister tried to jump over the fence into her parents' compound, the man also attempted to jump over the fence.
Their father Bob Mweya, who runs the Royal Chich restaurants in Eldoret, was watching the Spain-Portugal match on television when he heard the commotion outside. He ran out armed with a panga. Other neighbours had also come out to see what was going on. "When the man saw me, he ran away and entered his car which sped away," said Mweya. The family then rushed Njeri to hospital as she was bleeding profusely before reporting the incident to police.
However Kemboi gave a different version of events in his statement to police. He said they were followed by a red car after they stopped for Njeri to buy chips. When he stopped the car, five people emerged and called him by name demanding money. Kemboi said that there was a scuffle but he freed himself. He said one thug aimed a knife at him while he was holding Njeri. He ducked and in the process Njeri was stabbed.
He alleged that the woman might have communicated with the gangsters before the attack. Eldoret CID boss Isaac Musyoki said the incident was reported after midnight by both parties. Njeri said she had communicated with Kemboi through phone calls and SMS but they were not in any relationship. Kemboi also said that he had only offered to drop her as a friend. "I have several SMS he sent to me in the last few days. But when I gave him my number I told him it was for the purposes of him coming to my hotel as a customer", said Njeri.
She fell unconscious after the incident but was able to talk five hours after being attended to by doctors. Her father said he only discovered the identity of the man when he recovered Kemboi's documents at the gate. "Let the courts deal with the case because he has now been charged", said Mweya who displayed blood soaked clothes which his daughter was wearing.
Kemboi's documents included a copy of his National Identity Card No 21033467, passport photos for himself and his child; a photo of him in full police uniform bearing force No 87968. Other documents included his Barclays bank Premier Visa Card No 4874610606386093 bearing the name Ezekiel Kemboi Yano, money including 500 dollars 200 Euros and Kenya shillings, Nakumatt Smart Card No 1040816648000010 and business cards among other items. Njeri's father said he would only hand over the documents to the police after getting copies and in the presence of his lawyers.