Sole survivor Evelyn Wanjugu desolately recalls the night of December 22, just before Christmas, when her family was murdered in a fire near Mwingi.
It was set by her father – who often threatened to kill them all – and who also died. Fortunately, Evelyn had taken her baby and left.
As she bid goodbye to her mother after closing their Mwingi hotel on the night before, Evelyn didn’t know that was the last time she would see her mum alive.
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The next day, she expected her mother to come to Mwingi town where the two operated a hotel. She never showed up.
Evelyn decided to go check on her mother’s house in Kavuvwani village, Mwingi West subcounty. The compound was crowded by murmuring villagers, the air was filled with acrid smoke.
As she walked towards the home, she saw the homestead was burnt down and worse still, her mother and two siblings were dead inside.
“My father kept saying that he would one day kill everyone but we never knew that the day would finally come,” Evelyn said in tears, cradling her baby. She told her story as neighbours gathered around.
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She said her parents always had differences that always led to fights and her father, Paul Mwai, often threatened to kill the whole family.
“My mother kept telling Dad to leave her house but he insisted on staying there by force amid threats of killing all of us,” she added.
Following the threats, Wanjugu and her months-old baby left and moved to Mwingi town, five kilometres away from their village.
Wanjugu said the house belonged to her mother and she kept telling Mwai to move out, but he refused.
Kavuvwani chief Mwinzi Muvengei said investigations were underway and told residents to remain calm as police unravelled the details of the murders.
A neighbour who sought anonymity said the duo were always quarrelling and and the woman’s relatives frequently ordered Mwai to leave her alone and return to his Katutu home in Kitui.
He never left.
Neighbour Peter Musili said when they noticed the midnight fire, they rushed to put it out. They broke the metal door that was locked from the inside.
They found the body of the 14-year-old girl and her younger brother lying on a sofa.
“Their mother had also passed on while the man was producing a funny sound in their bedroom,” Musili said.
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“We then broke the window and moved the man outside where he was rushed to Mwingi Level 4 Hospital,” he said.
Nicholas Mutua, Mwingi Central deputy subcounty police commander, said Paul Mwai died while receiving hospital treatment.
Police said the cause of the four deaths was being investigated.
The bodies of the four are at the hospital mortuary awaiting postmortem. Burial will be on Saturday.
– The Star/ Lina Musangi
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