Nairobi News

LifeNewsWhat's Hot

DCI rule out sniper theory in fatal shooting of NHIF employee

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has ruled out the sniper theory in the fatal shooting of an employee of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) on February 13 in Nairobi.

According to the DCI Director Amin Mohamed, ballistics exams conducted on the bullet head that was lodged in Mary Lillian Waithera’s left lung have shown that she was killed by a 9mm pistol.

“From my experience, I will say that that was not the work of a sniper. Snipers ordinarily go for rifles with longer barrels for purposes of accuracy, the shorter the barrel the shorter the accuracy. So if a sniper indeed wanted to eliminate her, he would not have used a pistol,” Mr Amin explained in an n an exclusive interview with the Nation.

On the question of whether the killer used a silencer on the gun, Mr Amin said the crowding of the street and the nature of the weapon may have muzzled the sound of the gunshot.

“At the point of the release of the thrust we may have been able to hear, but then you realise that a 9mm bullet will travel at least a distance of one kilometre. Again, considering that the area was the CBD, a crowded place, the possibility of hearing that gunshot would be minimal,” he said.

Preliminary investigations show that Waithera, 46, a former registration officer at NHIF’s Upper Hill branch left work on February 13 in the company of a female colleague with whom she engaged in a joyful chat as they walked towards the CBD.

As they were crossing towards Wabera Street’s general direction, the deceased told her friend that she had been hit by something that she could not explain and that she needed an ambulance to take her to the hospital. She then leaned onto the Jubilee Insurance building as her friend tried to support her.

Also read: Suspect linked to shooting of NHIF employee arrested, rifle recovered

“While they were waiting for the ambulance, her colleague noticed the deceased was bleeding from the mouth and when the ambulance arrived she was immediately evacuated to Nairobi Hospital,” Mr Amin explained.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Waithera was pronounced dead and the body was subsequently taken to Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary. The following day, the body was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital’s mortuary where a post-mortem exam was conducted.

The doctor formed the opinion that the cause of death was excess haemorrhage in the left lung due to a single gunshot,” said Mr Amin.

The bullet head that was found lodged in her lung was forwarded to the DCI forensics laboratory’s ballistics section for analysis.

On Thursday last week, homicide detectives returned to Wabera Street to reconstruct the scene. On Monday evening, acting on intelligence collected from the day of the incident, they trailed one Julius Kimani Mwangi who had been found with a gun outside Simmers along Muindi Mbingu street.

“Arising from the suspicion that he may have been involved in Ms Waithera’s shooting, we found it proper to go for him and verify if indeed he was connected to the shooting of the deceased,” said Mr Amin.

Detectives trailed the suspect and arrested him at Kenol in Murang’a County. He was found in possession of a pistol loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition.

The suspect was however able to prove that he is indeed a licensed firearm holder.

Also read: Kalonzo – Fatal shooting of NHIF staffer could be a political assassination

“We subjected the recovered bullet head and the pistol recovered from Julius to forensic examination and later it was discovered that the pistol was not the one that fired the fatal bullet. Consequently, we were left with no option but to release him as we progress with our investigations,” added the DCI boss.

Detectives are now focusing on other leads to establish who killed Waithera, including reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing eyewitnesses as well as conducting a forensic examination of the crime scene.

“Hopefully, in the fullness of time we will be able to reconstruct the scene and apprehend the culprit,” said Mr Amin.

He urged Kenyans who witnessed the incident to come forth and offer information to the DCI.

“Nairobi is safe, the CBD is safe and secure, and people have no reason to fear at all. Our investigations have not pointed to the allegations that a sniper assassin was involved,” he said.

Mr Amin concluded by saying that at the moment, it is still too early to tell who killed Waithera.

Yesterday Waithera’s family and colleagues gave emotional tributes, describing her as dependable, caring, approachable and a welcoming person as they detailed some of her final tasks at the state agency at a requiem mass held in Kariobangi.

Also read: Police probe mysterious fatal shooting of NHIF employee on Kaunda Street

NHIF Chief Executive Officer Peter Kamunyo said that until her demise, Waithera was a dedicated employee and a friend to her colleagues and NHIF clients.

“On 13th February at 4.54 pm, she sent a message to one of the hospital groups to tell them that the system was now working and it should be okay to continue, two minutes later she sent another message to the group of hospitals in Nairobi to reassure them about the query they had. A few minutes after that she left us,” Mr Kamunyo recounted.

“On the 13th we had a good time in the office, I remember asking my colleagues to request Mary and a few others to do a programme for an activity and she agreed… She was a proactive and very loving person,” Nairobi regional manager Mary Nyachae recounted.

Waithera’s husband Paul Mbogo described her as his soulmate, saying he now sits with his two sons as they wonder what happened to their mother.

“This was not our plan. We had many plans but not this one. Never did I ever think I will walk down the church to bid my wife goodbye. She has left a big gap in my heart. We have questions but we thank God for our children. My wife did her things meticulously, and I pray to God she rests well,” said Mr Mbogo.

Also read: Stop speculating on woman shot in CBD says NHIF