Kenya: Why Court Ruled Out Homicide in Mutula Death Probe

18 September 2020

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo woke up in high spirits on Thursday April 26, 2013.

According to his wife Cyrose Nduku, the senator had a shower, took breakfast and bid her bye.

The lawmaker called around 6pm to inform her that he had arrived at his Kwa Kyelu Ranch.

"He sounded well and even joked," said Nduku, who got married to Mr Kilonzo in 1982 after his divorce.

She was called the following day and informed that her husband had fallen ill.

Mr Kilonzo's personal assistant Stella Mutheu said the senator passed by the office that day and that he went through paperwork and signed some letters before leaving between 10 and 11am.

She went home, only to receive the news of his death the following day.

Ms Mutheu, who had been Mr Kilonzo's PA for 10 years, said he had on several occasions complained of tiredness, attributing it to the gruelling political campaigns. Elections had been held the previous month.

Election victory

Mr Kilonzo's cook - Kelly Mutua - prepared a meal of maize, beans and meat mixed with vegetables, peas and potatoes.

The senator's son Mutula Kilonzo Jr said his father sent him a text that night over a petition contesting his election victory.

At 11am the following day, the lawmaker was found dead in his bed by his workers.

A government report later showed he died of massive bleeding caused by high blood pressure.

A report conducted by several experts said the senator had taken the drug Ephedrine (pseudoephedrine) with Pepsi drink.

Doctors told Senior Resident Magistrate B Bartoo that the drug is a decongestant and is also used as an anaesthesia during surgery.

The drug, the inquest was told, is used by a person with low blood pressure to stimulate heartbeat.

The effects can, however, be fatal as it can cause high blood pressure, especially if combined with caffeine.

The news of the senator's death sparked suspicion, with many saying he had been killed.

Mr Kilonzo Jr, who became senator, said his father had received threatening messages countless times.

Some of the messages were from a woman identified as Nduku, he said.

But Ms Nduku told the inquest that her relation with Mr Kilonzo's other children was not good.

She admitted that her husband feared for his life and had received three threatening messages, but he never reported the matter to police.

She also talked of a threatening letter sent to a school in Mbooni.

The letter reportedly contained some powder and some writing in red stating: "Mutula, breathe your last".

Samples collected from Mr Kilonzo Sr's home were taken for analysis.

The samples were from the leftover food, half a pack of Del Monte juice, an empty can of Pepsi and several water bottles.

Also taken for sampling were vomit found in the bathroom and pellets in a drawer.

Drank water

Though the results confirmed that he drank water and the beverage, the juice was consumed by another person.

The body was taken to Lee Funeral Home, where a postmortem was carried out by Dr Andrew Gachie, Dr Johansen Oduor, Prof Ian Calder from UK, Dr Emily Rogena, Dr Luke Musau and Dr Symon Mwangi Watene.

Drs Oduor, Rogena and Gachie dismissed reports of a cover-up, maintaining that the drug taken with Pepsi triggered the death.

The Pepsi drink, they said, enhances the stimulation effect of pseudoephedrine.

Prof Calder said he would do a toxicology test. In November of the same year, he sent Mr Kilonzo Jr an email described by the latter as disturbing.

According to the lawmaker, the pathologist said he would only sign his final report if he received sealed samples for analysis.

Mr Kilonzo Jr said he suspected foul play because there was no explanation as to why the samples remained at Nairobi Hospital for nine days.

He added that his father received a threat in February 2013 and withdrew a case against "Nduku".

He said the woman sent a message, saying she would eliminate him and his children. But he added that the phone might have been used by persons other than Nduku.

The magistrate dismissed claims of a cover-up, especially because Prof Calder did not testify or send a report alluding to interference with the samples.

Dedicated public servant

"It is sad that we lost a dedicated public servant in the manner as it may. I have evaluated the evidence and I am in agreement with the State that there is no evidence pointing to any person (s) having a hand in the death of Senator Mutula Kilonzo," the court ruled.

Mwangi, who was the first doctor to arrive at the ranch, said he was attending a conference at Maanzoni Lodge when he was called to an emergency.

Dr Mwangi said a bloody discharge was flowing from the senator's mouth and nose.

He found that he was not breathing and there was no pulse. He then broke the news to the family and workers. He said the senator died around 9.50am.

He added that there was no evidence of a struggle and he immediately organised collection of the food samples.

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