11 July 2019

Kenya: Man in Multiple Family Killings Complained of Rocky Marriage

The woman who slashed her husband before strangling her two children and then hanging herself was friendly to her neighbours, but a different person in what had become a troubled marriage.

Friends of her husband, Joseph Gitau, 38, and neighbours at Thome estate said he had complained to them on many occasions about his wife, Joyce Wanjiru, 32.

He had said she was giving him sleepless nights and that the marriage had reached a breaking point.

SOLACE AT WORK

Mr Gitau found solace among his workmates at Kigwa Ridge on the northern bypass where he worked as a gardener.

On almost a weekly basis, he confided in his friend Paul Ndung'u how his wife was battering him.

But Mr Gitau never missed going to work.

So when he did not show up on Tuesday, Mr Ndung'u suspected something was amiss.

PHONE OFF

"His phone was not going through and his wife's phone was not being answered," he said.

At the couple's home, two labourers nearby reported to work but something seemed miss. But they did not think too much about it.

Ms Wanjiru, who had been keeping jembes for the workers, did not answer when they knocked on her house to exchange greetings as was their routine.

The door was not locked but the two men, out of respect, did not peep in.

LONG DEAD

The two went about their work until 1pm when Mr Ndung'u and other men came to ask if they had seen the couple.

Unknown to them, Mr Gitau, his wife and their two children were long dead.

They only found out after police came to the compound accompanied by a group of neighbours.

One of the men said he had met Gitau at the neighbouring Marurui slum looking for Mr Ndung'u.

GORY SCENE

Pictures of the house shown to the Nation by the police revealed a scene of crime straight from hell.

Lying on the bed was Gitau's body which had a deep cut on the neck and several stab wounds.

Police suspect he was hit with an axe while seated, which made him slump on the bed before his wife descended on him with a knife.

The eldest of the two children, a girl aged seven, lay on a sofa seat with a cloth over her head. Police say she was suffocated just like her brother, aged two years.

Relatives of the couple told Nation that they learnt of the incident through a friend of the family who was among the first people to discover the bodies.

HANGED

And just next to the door to the house was Mrs Wanjiru's body, hanging from a rope attached to the roof.

On the table were utensils with some having tea in them. There were also slices of bread.

There was even some left-over chicken, probable eaten the night before the woman decided to eliminate her entire family including herself.

Kasarani Sub-County Police Commander Peter Kimani described the incident as domestic violence.

"After realising the mess she was in, she took a rope and hang herself. Our officers are at the scene," said the police boss.

Relatives of the couple expressed shock over the bizarre incident.

FAMILY SHOCKED

"We are still in shock. This is too painful for us. We knew they had marital issues but we never expected their conflicts to turn into what we heard," said Mary Mwihaki, Joseph's sister.

By the time the relatives were arriving at the couple's home, the bodies of the four had already been picked by the police and taken to the City Mortuary.

"However, we found that she had packed her clothes before the incident took place. She had probably wanted to leave," said Mwihaki.

She spoke after viewing the bodies of the couple and their two children.

PAID DOWRY

Wanjiru's siblings also viewed the body and confirmed that two months ago, Joseph paid his wife's dowry in a colourful event attended by friends and relatives.

"We are still in shock. We do not know how to process this. We do not know where to start. First, the mortuary and post-mortem bills are too high; we cannot afford the cost bearing in mind that the burial can only happen after a few days which means the cost will keep rising," said Elizabeth Maina, Wanjiru's sister.

The family estimates that if the bodies are preserved for 10 days at the mortuary, the bill could rise to Sh40,000 which both families said they cannot foot from their meagre earnings.

BURIAL

The bodies will be buried in Koibatek where Mr Girau's parents live.

Neighbours described the dead man as very polite and down to earth caretaker of an upmarket estate in Nairobi who, on a few occasions, was beaten by his wife.

"Joseph had accused his wife of cheating on him a couple of times. They were often wrangling and the wife would end up beating him. He would never fight back," said one neighbour.

At one point, recently, the couple is said to have opted to present their issues to the chief but the man opted out at the last minute out of fear that their issues would be made public.

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