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Family seeks answers over alleged murder of kin by police in Chuka

A family in Tharaka Nithi County is demanding answers after a police officer allegedly shot to death their loved one during a demonstration in Chuka town.

Willis Mugambi a Bodaboda Association chairman in Tharaka Nithi County was reportedly shot to death during a protest over the death of a local trader.

The residents, among them Chuka town Bodaboda operators, were protesting the death of a local trader, Mr Daniel Mutembei demanding the arrest of his killers.

It was while police dispersed these demonstrators that the association chair was reportedly shot to death.

According to witnesses Mugambi was shot in the chest, and died at the scene, an event which sparked a night battle between police and Bodaboda operators.

Speaking to the media the family said Mugambi was shot dead a few weeks to the day he was to pay a dowry to the family of the mother of his two daughters, in his quest to formalize the relationship.

The family further noted that before his death Mugambi was planning to formalize his marriage with dowry negotiations slated for May 11 this year.

Mugambi’s widow Christine Mwende,27, was visibly distraught by the killing, which robbed her of the father of her two daughters.

“I do not know how I will survive this, we started dating years ago, and now my daughters aged eight and three are fatherless,” she said.

Mwende recounted how she received news of Mugambi’s shooting, as he tried to calm a group of youths in the town.

As she spoke outside their incomplete house that the young couple moved into recently to save on rent in town, Mwende said she and her daughters wanted justice.

“The doctors said he died instantly, that he would not have survived from the gunshot wound,” Mwende whispered.

His mother, Purity Karimi, was teary as she mourned her firstborn, whom she described as God-fearing and hardworking, committed to the well-being of his parents, children and friends.

Eleseus Munene, the uncle, said Mugambi was a friendly, hardworking gentleman. The family wants the government to find Mugambi’s killers and serve them justice.

Mugambi’s cousin Fridah Gatwiri was one of the demonstrators in Chuka town when Mugambi was shot.

They were demonstrating with the body of Mutembei, and the police wanted them to release the body, but the crowd refused-Gatwiri narrated

“In the end, the police got the body, but then the police started throwing teargas at us, and then we heard gunshots,” she said.

Amid the confusion, they scampered for safety. And once it cleared, they discovered Mugambi lying on the ground.

“Though I was overwhelmed with teargas, I went on my knees and crawled to him thinking he was also overwhelmed, only for us to discover he had been shot. We rushed him to the hospital,” she said.

Gatwiri explained that Mutembei owned a weighing machine in Chuka town, which he charged people Sh10 to weigh themselves.

“I have known him in town for 15 years. We just wanted justice for him, and now want justice for my ‘brother’ Mugambi,” she said.

She said though the people in Chuka did not know Mutembei’s family, they wanted justice for him after he was killed in unclear circumstances.

Responding to the incident Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said he had dispatched investigators to probe the two killings.

CS Kindiki urged the residents to remain calm, assuring them of thorough investigations and the prosecution of those found culpable of the deaths.

The CS told the families of the deceased and the community to allow investigations that he said would be impartial.

County leaders led by Governor Muthomi Njuki, Woman Representative Susan Ngugi, Members of Parliament Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Patrick Munene (Chuka/Igambang’ombe) and Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), and County Assembly Speaker John Mbabu condemned the murders and asked for thorough investigations and the prosecution of the killers.

“The life of a bright young man with a promising future has been cut short in Chuka town by a bullet. At this time and age this should not be happening. Let us seek better ways to solve conflicts. My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Willis Mugambi whom we fondly refered to as Kiraku,” Mr Mbabu said.

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