NAIROBI, KENYA – Jane Njoki and her grandmother Jane Njoki Nderitu were inseparable. Hardly would a day pass before one could call or visit the other.
On February 27, however, Nderitu failed to hear from her granddaughter, a small business operator and a bar owner, only to be attracted by sounds of gunshots and screams from Suswa Anti-Stock Theft Unit camp in Subukia.
The 69-year-old woman’s heart skipped a beat, as she instinctively tried to reach Njoki. Njoki’s mobile phone was, however, off.
Word quickly went round Thuthu village in Weseges ward that Cosmas Biwott, 27, and a constable, had sprayed Njoki, 26, with at least 20 bullets, killing her and their five-year-old daughter Shantel Nyambura.
Biwott later committed suicide.
Nderitu was overwhelmed. She could not believe her granddaughter, with whom she shared a name, had died. She tried to access the bodies at the camp, unsuccessfully, since it is a protected area.
“The death of my granddaughter was so painful. When I heard the gun shots, I thought it was cattle theft suspects, only to receive shocking news of her death. This was such a brutal act,” said Nderitu, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Earlier, Njoki had informed her grandmother that the officer was hostile and used to pick quarrels with her over petty issues before attacking her.
Efforts to resolve the issues did not bear fruit.
“I advised my granddaughter to quit her marriage, as I did not see it last because the officer seemed not ready to settle. More often, she suffered injuries from his brutal attacks,” she said.
Njoki’s death took a toll on the family. She was the sole breadwinner. The family is now living in abject poverty.
She was survived by a 10-year-old daughter Bridgit Wambui, who is now depending on the aged Nderitu to do income generating activities to feed the family.
Mother also sickly
Njoki’s mother Sarah Wambui is also sickly, and depends on Nderitu for financial support.
For Nderitu, death snatched away a disciplined, jovial and responsible woman, who used to take care of their financial welfare.
“I wish death struck me, and not my granddaughter, who used to work to help the family financially. Death is so cruel,” said the Nderitu.
The woman said Njoki also used to pay school fees for her younger siblings John Nderitu and Jackline Waithera, both students at St Michaels Secondary School.
The two have been missing classes following accumulated fee balance.
“Life is so tough on us after death of my daughter, who used to buy for us food and support her younger siblings, who are now out of school,” said Ms Wambui.
A devastated Wambui said Biwott had threatened to kill Njoki several times. The two had been married for seven months.
Wambui said Njoki moved out of his house and rented her own when the quarrels became unbearable.
“The officer threatened to kill me and my daughter two weeks before committing the crime,” she said.
“They would part ways. However, they later got back together without my knowledge,” recalled Wambui.
She described her daughter as jovial and loving, and who worked extra hard to improve their livelihoods.
“I feel sad having lost my daughter at such a prime age when she was also expected to raise her children,” she said.