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Unresolved murders during Moi’s tenure

By Amina Wako February 6th, 2020 3 min read

Daniel Arap Moi’s 24 year tenure as the President of the Republic of Kenya was punctuated key murder cases of prominent personalities.

A good number of these murders remained unresolved post his presidency and even at the time of his death early on Tuesday morning.

Moi’s political opponents have always held the view that all these murders were politically motivated. The truth however has never and may never be established.

Here are some of the high-profile Moi era killings which remain unresolved to this day:

1. Robert Ouko (1990) – He was the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time of his disappearance from his Koru Farm on the night of 12/13 February 1990 and the eventual discovery of his lifeless body in Got Alila, Kisumu.

He had been shot in the head, his right leg broken in two places and his body partially burned.

After Ouko’s death, Superintendent John Troon of Scotland Yard’s International Organised Crime Branch, accompanied by two other detectives and a Home Office forensic pathologist, was invited into the country to solve the mystery murder.

Troon’s investigation were however inconclusive. So were the sittings of two commissions of inquiry to probe Ouko’s murder.

His brutal murder remains a mystery to date.

2. Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge (1990) – The Anglican Church of Kenya cleric lost his life in a tragic road accident in 1990. What raised suspicion over his death is that the staunch critic of the Kanu regime had been warned by Cabinet Minister Peter Okondo that he would not return alive from a planned trip to the politician’s backyard in Busia.

Muge, the ever-defiant cleric, dismissed Okondo’s warning and traveled to Busia for a crusade. Sure enough he never returned home alive. He died in a grisly road accident on his way back to Eldoret.

The driver of the “killer vehicle” was jailed for dangerous driving but died after serving five of his seven-year sentence.

Years later, a former intelligence officer told the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that Muge was killed by security agents and the accident was staged to cover-up the murder.

3. Julie Ward (1988) – Julie, a publishing assistant, was last seen alive in Kenya on September 6, 1988, after she traveled to the Maasai Mara with an Australian friend, Dr Glen Burns.

When their Jeep broke down, Julie was left at the Mara as Burns traveled to Nairobi. After the car was fixed the next day, Julie decided to drive to Sand River camp to recover her camping equipment.

That is when she was murdered and her body set on fire after allegedly being gang-raped. Simon Makallah, formerly the head warden of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, was identified as a suspect but was cleared in 1999. Julie’s father, John Ward spent Sh160 million and traveled to Kenya countless times in a bid to unravel her death.

Mr Ward once said he was convinced that a postmortem report had been altered from the findings of murder to indicate that wild animals had killed his daughter.

4. Fr Anthony Kaiser (2000) – The American priest’s troubles started after the 1997 general election when he appeared before the Akimwumi Commission in 1998 and linked several serving government officials to the electoral violence. In 1999, he assisted two girls who claimed to have been raped by a powerful cabinet minister at the time.

In March 2000, the Law Society of Kenya honoured Fr Kaiser with the Human Rights Award for his continued rights campaigns, including testifying at the Akiwumi Commission.

On August 23, 2000, Fr Kaiser was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun. His body was found at 6am the next day beneath two acacia trees, by a butcher at Morendat junction on the Nakuru-Naivasha road.

FBI investigators called in by the Kenyan government concluded that the priest had committed suicide.

5. Titus Adungosi (1988) – Adungosi was a third-year student of architecture at the University of Nairobi and Sonu chairman in 1982 when rebels of the Kenya Air Force launched a failed coup to overthrow Moi.

He was accused of leading students to demonstrations in support of the rebels. For this he handed a 10-year jail term on September 24, 1982.

He served his term but just to two months to his release Adungosi died under mysterious circumstances in December 1988.

Wafula Buke, who testified before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), claimed that two inmates at Kamiti and Naivasha prisons told him about Adungosi’s death.

According to an inmate at Naivasha, Adungosi got stomach ulcers but the prison authorities ignored his pleas to be taken to hospital. He then went on a hunger strike to force them to act on his illness and the officers transferred him to Kamiti for treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), he got worse and died from bleeding.

Prison authorities said Adungosi died at KNH on December 27, 1988, of intestinal obstruction caused by a stomach ulcer.

Today his family is still pushing for justice.