18 May 2017

Kenya: Shock As Missing Pastor Found Murdered

Shock engulfed Riensune village in Nyamira County after a decomposing body of an SDA pastor who went missing about a month ago was found dumped in a thicket near his home.

A herder found a skull dumped in an open field on Thursday at around 8am and immediately raised alarm attracting hundreds of locals.

Police who were called at the scene mobilised villagers into searching the torso after forming groups.

After a few hours of searching, the decomposing body was found deep in a thicket about 150 meters from where the skull was.

The remains had been dumped in a farm belonging to the late Education Minister and Kitutu West MP George Sagini.

The farm manager Musa Ombati said they were attracted to the scene by wailing villagers and had not known that the body had been dumped there.

"There is little activity in the farm which is mostly used by herders to graze livestock," he said.

GREAT SHOCK

The deceased identified as Pastor Nicholas Kibagendi had his black trouser, brown belt and brown shoes intact. He had won the same clothes on April 20, the day he disappeared.

His elder brother, Ronald Akunga, said as a family, they are in great shock following the death of the pastor who was known to be friendly and very social.

"We have searched for him for the past one month. It is with great grief that we receive the news of his death. His state bothers us the more," he said.

The 65-year-old man said his brother was dedicated to church work and had served in almost all SDA churches around Borabu constituency where he lived.

Mr Akunga said the deceased worked as the Stewardship director at the Nyamira SDA regional office and was not known to undertake any business besides preaching.

"Out of his good work, he was elevated to serve bigger roles. We do not understand why his killers would murder a good man like him," he said.

The family vehemently denied reports on social media that the deceased lived a double life and involved himself in questionable deals.

"What is being said in social media about my brother is false and I consider it an illusion," said Mr Akunga.

UNKNOWN CALLER

The deceased's close friend, Pastor Peter Aricha, praised the late Kibagendi whom he described as a man dedicated to serving God and humanity.

His disappearance attracted the attention of the National Adventist Church with officials calling for anyone with information that could lead to his whereabouts to come forward.

He said they had suspected foul play in his disappearance and news of his body only confirmed their fears.

Pastor Kibagendi is believed to have been lured by an unknown caller from his Kijauri home before he walked out into the tarmac only to disappear.

Area chief Mike Onsombi said the deceased was last seen making a phone call near Riensune Primary School.

"He was found near the school and we are wondering who are behind the cold murder," he said.

His widow, Jenniffer Kibagendi said his husband was in a jovial mood on the day he went missing and had breakfast with them.

ATTACKED

"We only suspected that something was amiss when his phones went off at noon and had delayed in returning home," she said.

She said they had been attacked by thugs three times since they moved to the region a decade ago but did not suspect any possible connection to the latest incident.

They together have five children.

Borabu police Boss Anthony Onyango said they are treating the case as murder.

"Three weeks ago, we started investigations after it was reported to us that the pastor was missing. But we now treat this as a murder case and we promise to bring his perpetrators to book," he said.

Early April, still in the same area, a police officer identified as a Mr Odero went missing before his body was found 10 days later dumped near a river.

The two cases have left residents in shock but police say the two murders are not related in any way.

A local leader Alephaxard Osoro called on police to ensure perpetrators of the heinous act are arrested and prosecuted.

"We feel that we are no longer safe. Police should ensure our security," he said.

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