18 April 2019

Kenya: I've Lost Everything' - Lawyer in Son's Fatal Shooting Speaks Out

Weary, lonely, and confused, city lawyer Assa Nyakundi sat inside his hospital room on Wednesday, waiting, as he has done for the past one month, for his date with destiny over the shooting of his son in a Nairobi suburb.

Admitted to the hospital after complaining of high blood pressure soon after the incident slightly over a month ago, Mr Nyakundi is on round-the-clock police guard at Nairobi Hospital.

Every visitor to his room at Ward LMF on the third floor is screened, perhaps for security purposes, but it is the gravity of the matter facing him that could sink him.

And he appears to have finally realised that, no matter how long he stays in his hospital bed, the police officer outside his room will wait for him.

"I have never been to a police cell, but if they take me to prison, it will not be worse than losing my son in the way it happened," he told the Nation on Wednesday at the hospital, in his first interview since the fatal incident. "There is nothing more to lose at this point. I have lost everything."

Two weeks ago, his son Joseph, whom he says he accidentally shot as they drove home from church, was buried in a low-key ceremony at Lang'ata Cemetery in Nairobi.

FIT TO STAND TRIAL

And on Monday, detectives handed over the lawyer's medical report to court as ordered 12 days ago by Makadara Senior Principal Magistrate Angelo Kithinji.

The police have also finally managed to record his statement after being unable to do so for weeks over his alleged medical condition.

If the police think he has a case to answer and the Makadara court, after perusing his medical report, says he is fit to stand trial, Mr Nyakundi, who has spent decades defending criminals, will now have to defend himself. The matter is scheduled to come up again in court on Wednesday next week.

"If it turns out there will be a trial, I will defend myself and my lawyers will do their bit because it was an accident," he said on Wednesda. "Nothing can change that."

But it is not just the date with justice that is giving Mr Nyakundi sleepless nights.

On the family front, differences in opinion soon after he shot his son have caused a major split. His other son Noah, whom we last saw crying uncontrollably at his brother's graveside in Lang'ata, has never visited his father in hospital.

LOVED HIS SON

Under Abagusii customs, Joseph, an unmarried adult male, should have been buried at his father's farm in Ngoso village, Kitutu Chache, Kisii County.

It is Noah who opposed the idea, family sources said.

During Joseph's brief funeral service at the International Christian Church on Mombasa Road, Pastor Philip Kitoto, who presided, asked people to stop speculating about how Joseph died and let the investigative agencies do their jobs.

"Nobody knows what happened," said the pastor. "Remember that people's words can separate families. Instead of speculating, why can't we take this chance to thank God for the life of Joseph," he said.

Mr Nyakundi on Wednesday said he loved his son and that they were very close.

"Both of us were Arsenal fans and I was trying to teach him some golf. We were preparing to take him abroad to further his studies," he said.

DAY OF THE SHOOTING

"A lot of things have been written in the media based on non-facts. Where I live is very open and the Judiciary Training College is on the road to my house, so how is it possible that the shot was fired from outside the car as people claim based on a postmortem report they have not seen?" he asked.

In his initial statement to the police on the of day the shooting, March 17, the lawyer said he was trying to holster his firearm while in his car when he accidentally fired, shooting his 29-year-old son in the chest.

Mr Nyakundi said he was the one driving when the incident happened. He told police that he accidentally pulled the trigger of his Glock pistol, discharging one bullet that hit his son accidentally. He then rushed him to Aga Khan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

One spent cartridge was found under the mat of the front passenger seat and a bullet head of the same calibre was found inside the boot of the Toyota Axio that the two were travelling in.

Mr Nyakundi on Wednesday refused to talk about what transpired in the car during the short commute from the church on Mombasa Road to his Muthaiga North residence.

"It is still an active investigation, so let us leave that to the correct channels to say what has been found out. With time the truth will come out," he says.

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