KENYA – As a couple had a fight that later led to their separation, their children watched, cried and tried to separate them.
When the mother, Norah Kaingoki, left the home that night, six-year-old James Kamau chose to stick with his stepfather Zachariah Chege.
A few days later, Mr Chege allegedly turned against the boy who had chosen him over his mother, killed him and threw his lifeless body into a pit latrine near their home in JB estate in Nakuru Town East.
The stench of death that wafted from the latrine aroused a neighbour’s curiosity. He informed the authorities, who retrieved Kamau’s body. He had been murdered and dismembered.
The police arrested Mr Chege, and on Wednesday they took him to court. They were allowed to detain him for 14 more days as they investigate the case.
Ms Kangoki yesterday recalled the events that led to the death of her firstborn son. She said that her husband, with whom she had the other two children, came home drunk at 9pm on May 26 and found mother and children asleep.
He became violent, blaming her for a myriad of issues he was not clear about. As he assaulted her, the eldest child started screaming and pleading with his father to stop hurting their mother.
The father then turned on the child and beat him too, leaving him with injuries. But as the woman and her two other children escaped from the home, the boy said he would remain with his stepfather.
“I left him there and I was hoping that he would take him to hospital for treatment because if we continued to stay, he would have killed all of us. I tried to stop him from hurting my son. I wish he had just told me to return my son to his father instead of killing him,” she added
She said she sought refuge at a Good Samaritan’s home, where she stayed for two days recuperating. After regaining strength, she travelled to her sister’s home in Gilgil.
“I would call him to inquire how the boy was doing, and he kept assuring me that everything was okay and he was well,” he said.
On Thursday last week, her sister received a call and the person on the line told her that the body of a six-year-old had been retrieved from a pit latrine and that it resembled her nephew.
“I was in denial because when I left, the boy was well, just injured a bit from the beating,” Ms Kangoki said.
Later that day, she was summoned to the Mwariki Police Station and shown photographs of the body. Immediately, she said, she recognised it as that of her son, going by the trousers and shirt he was wearing the day they left him in the house.
Ms Kaingoki was referred to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters to record statements. Her husband was arrested.
She is now awaiting to find out how the boy died after a postmortem exam is conducted before the boy is buried.
“He was a violent person, even neighbours feared him. The photo I was shown really broke my heart. I really can’t tell when he killed my son because that night I escaped and he later communicated and kept assuring me he was okay,” she said.
Ms Kaingoki said she met Mr Chege in 2016, and although she was a single mother of one, he accepted her and took her in as his wife.
Before she met him, she had dropped out of school and left her home in Meru County to live with her elder sister in Nakuru. She became pregnant with a man she was dating. But he denied he was the father of the unborn child.
She said her sister continued supporting her, until she met Mr Chege, who accepted her with the pregnancy and the two agreed that they would move in together after she gave birth, which they did.
Six years later, she said, the man turned into a monster and he would assault her whenever he came home drunk.
Her elder sister, Ms Ann Kangai, said that she reached out to Mr Chege to find out the truth, but he sent her a text message denying that he had assaulted his wife.
He told them that the neighbour who told them about the assaults did not like him and was lying.
“We were told that when the boy was being retrieved [from the latrine] he was at the scene but he even said he didn’t know whose body it was. He was arrested while playing pool not far from where they lived,” she said.
“As a family, we only want justice. My sister fears for her life. He is extremely violent and if he is released from police custody he might kill her and her two children.”