Saturday, July 4, 2009



Friday, July 3 2009

Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge, the man condemned to hang for killing Tom Mboya, never regretted the assassination.

He confessed that the revolver found on the roof of his house No 4486 at Ofafa Jericho estate had done “a wonderful job”, fresh details dug up by Saturday Nation reveal.

He admired the “beautiful weapon”, and that is why he could not throw it away, two days after the shooting.

“Had you observed it (the revolver), you would have noticed that it was a beautiful weapon that had done a wonderful job,” Njenga told his lawyer at Kamiti prison.

For the first time, the man given the task of defending Njenga in court, both during the trial and the appeal, now says he has no doubt Njenga was guilty.

Lawyer Samuel Njoroge Waruhiu of Waruhiu and Company Advocates says Njenga incriminated himself from the start.

It is still not 100 per cent proven Njenga pulled the trigger himself, but the gun that killed Mboya was found in his house.

Physical attributes

During the murder trial, witnesses contradicted themselves on the physical attributes of the assassin.

Njenga’s closest reinforcement to this notion came when he told the lawyer, “The ballistic expert does not know what he said in court. The gun could have been used by any person, but it has done a wonderful job.”

In a rare revelation of events that were not mentioned in court, Mr Waruhiu dramatically captures what went on behind the scenes during the 10 days the court sat under Mr Justice Simpson.

He tells of his encounter with Njenga at Kamiti prison, what Njenga painstakingly confessed to him and why he could not win the case.
The state machinery was under intense pressure to conclude the case. Justice had to be seen to be done,” says Mr Waruhiu.

He reluctantly took it up after Njenga’s wife, Grace, approached him. Only two years in legal practice in Kenya, having arrived from Britain in 1967, Mr Waruhiu initially declined to take up the case because he was not a criminal lawyer.

But Grace insisted that he (Waruhiu) had been chosen to defend her husband by people who had sent her and that if he declined, he would not live.

On meeting for the first time, Njenga told Mr Waruhiu that there was no money to pay him, and that the defence was up to the people who had sent his wife to him. Their identities were never revealed, and the lawyer was never paid.

Mr Waruhiu is the son of Senior Chief Waruhiu, who was shot dead in 1952 in Gachie, Kiambu, triggering the declaration of emergency.

Curiously, it was Grace’s father, Kirichu Murimi, who was with Chief Waruhiu in his car when he was murdered.

“I feared there was a connection between my father’s assassination and that of Mboya,” he says.

The complexities of the case were endless and the investigations dramatic. When he was arrested at Alvi House on Victoria Street (now Tom Mboya street), by Joginder Singh and another officer, on July 8, he made his first mistake.

Before being whisked away, Njenga, who had an office there, told his secretary to rush home and instruct his wife to put “that thing” at mambarita.

He reminded the secretary not to forget the word mambarita.

Njenga did not know that Mr Singh understood the Kikuyu language and that he had heard the unusual word.

In Kikuyu language, mambarita means the space between the roof and the ceiling. Crafty as he was, when the police asked him to take them to his house, Njenga led them to Banana Hill, where his parents lived.

But near Ruaka, Mr Singh asked the driver to turn back because the houses in that area had no mambarita.

Njenga was made to admit that he actually lived in Nairobi, where houses had ceilings.

They turned back. It is then that he led the police to Eastlands. Njenga later told Waruhiu he wanted to buy time so that the secretary could reach his house before the police. And quite successfully, she had delivered the message to the wife by the time the police arrived.

When they got to his house, the officers asked his wife to show them mambarita. When she did, Mr Singh immediately went up and found a briefcase.

Although Njenga had said there were papers in the briefcase and that they contained some secret, and that is why he wanted his wife to hide them, the police did not find any papers.
Instead, and to their astonishment, there was a gun. When it was later dusted, the only set of fingerprints found on it was Njenga’s.

The lawyer says Njenga was a sly man who was mean with information, even if it was meant to help in his defence.

He also never seemed to care much about what would happen to him. Seemingly, he had been made to believe that he would be protected and flown to a faraway country after the assassination.

He loathed hard questions and was rude to the lawyer. “It was hard dealing with him. Here I was, trying to get information so that I could arm myself with a tangible defence. But here was a client who was keen to hide as much as possible,” says the lawyer.

Mr Waruhiu, who usually spoke to Njenga in the presence of an intern, Mr Raphael Mathenge, had to resort to reading his body language to discern his answers.

For instance, on several occasions he was asked questions by Mr Waruhiu, and he would quickly shift his eyes from the lawyer to Mr Mathenge, something the two learnt meant he had been caught flatfooted.

At one time in Kamiti, Njenga was so agitated by the lawyer’s insistence on knowing whether the gun was his, that he called a warder and demanded that he be taken away. “I felt frustrated. He told the warder that my questions never made any more sense,” recalls Mr Waruhiu.

And when Mr Waruhiu asked him what he had to say on the fact that only his fingerprints were on the gun that killed Mr Mboya, Njenga became rude, and retorted: “Ask the police that question.”

Another thing that Njenga hated to be confronted with was whether he was the one who had actually shot Mr Mboya. When the lawyer sought to know, he again shifted his eyes and said: “ It does not matter who used it. That gun has just done a wonderful job.”

Just before the trial ended, Mr Waruhiu reflected on the matters that troubled him. He was disturbed that he was defending a man who had killed one of his best friends.

Mr Mboya and Mr Waruhiu were together at Mang’u High School in 1944 and 1945 and even after Mboya left, they became friends.

But here he was, defending his friend’s killer, a man who was proud of a “job well done”.

“He never hid from me the fact that he was proud of the death. I wondered whether he even needed my services,” says Mr Waruhiu.

Njenga had said that people like Mboya and Chief Waruhiu deserved to be killed for selling the country to foreigners.

“Your father sold us to the British. Mboya was selling us to the Americans. They deserved what they got,” said Njenga.

In a chat shortly after this exchange, Njenga confessed that he believed more in communism than capitalism, although he was a youth winger in Mr Mboya’s People’s Convention Party, which was working with Kanu to run the government.

For a man who would turn around the ministries he was appointed to, Mboya had earned enemies from both sides of the political divide. To the left, were Jaramogi Odinga’s political allies and the so-called communists.

To the right, were Mboya’s capitalist allies. But within this camp, there was a clique that was increasingly getting jittery of Mboya’s charisma and rising popularity.

And according to Njenga’s lawyer, the more dangerous clique that would have wanted Mboya dead, was the one that saw him as an immediate political rival.
After Mr Waruhiu’s appeal against the conviction delivered on September 10, 1969, was thrown out, he wrote to President Kenyatta to exercise his prerogative of mercy on Njenga. It was rejected.

The lawyer, however, says that Njenga may not have uttered the infamous words that alluded he had worked for “a big man”. He rejects any suggestion that Njenga made the statement to answer a question on who had sent him.

“He never made such statement in court. He was never cross-examined by a prosecutor,” says Mr Waruhiu.

He explains that at the end of a case by the prosecution, the accused can either give evidence under oath, make an unsworn statement or keep silent. It is only when one chooses the first option that they can be cross-examined. Njenga chose to keep silent.

Mr Waruhiu believes Njenga was hanged at Kamiti soon after his plea for prerogative mercy flopped.