Walking through ‘the last door’ of mysterious murders

Tuesday January 17 2023
Protestors demonstrate in Nairobi in 2016

Protestors demonstrate in Nairobi in 2016 over the killing of lawyer Willie Kimani. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG


“There was a container at the Nairobi area where people were being slaughtered in a police station,” a visibly angry President William Ruto told the media in his first interview early this month.

“What kind of rogue institution was that?... it is sad that more than 200 bodies of Kenyans (in 2021 and 2022) were retrieved from rivers and thickets,” he added, in explaining why Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti had to leave his post last year.

Kenyans being extra-judicially executed and their bodies dumped in bushes and rivers is nothing new — but it’s being captured in a new true crime documentary series The Last Door produced by MultiChoice Kenya, and hosted by producer and renowned investigative journalist, John-Allan Namu.

Investigative journalist John-Allan Namu

Investigative journalist John-Allan Namu poses for a photo with his family at Westgate Cinemas in Nairobi on January 5, 2023 during the premiere of his documentary titled The Last Door. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

River Yala

The Last Door is about infamous crimes that have been committed in Kenya, and Namu follows and retraces the last steps of the victims through the series.


One of the rivers President Ruto was referring to is Yala, which burst into the news, not for bursting its banks but for bubbling with bodies (about 30 identified at the last count) in recent times; and in River of Skulls one of the docu-projects launched last week by DStv, Namu gets to find out who they are, and why some of these ‘aquatic dumpees’ were executed summarily.

When it comes to police slaughtering people in, or even from containers that they have held them in, no case tags the heartstrings like that of the "Mavoko Three" who were kidnapped, tortured and killed in 2016.

The three men – lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri – disappeared after they were last seen at a police station in Syokimau. That morning, Kimani and Mwenda had attended a court session in Mavoko for a case Mwenda had filed against a police officer who he accused of shooting him.

Rogue police

The last door that closed on the trio was that of the taxi driven by Muiruri.

After that, the trio were abducted by a quartet of rogue police officers, detained in a container in Syokimau, then removed at 7.30pm and driven to a field in Mavoko to be brutally beaten, strangled to death by rope, and their bodies dumped in the Ol Donyo Sabuk river.

The big question is: If Rebekkah Mwenda, the widow of Josephat, had answered the call (she didn’t answer calls from numbers that she did not know) from the boda boda rider who found the note Willie had thrown outside the container indicating both their location, and that their lives were in great danger would that "last door" have been opened, and the Mavoko Three walked back alive through it? We will never know.

"The Last Door is the show that opens the door for the public to view the entire story behind well-known local crimes,” said Nancy Matimu, managing director of MultiChoice, at the launch last week.

In The African Heiress, Namu speaks to the family of Tecra Muigai, daughter of Senator Tabitha Karanja, proprietor of Keroche Breweries, as well as that of Omar Lali, the man who was dating her at the time she fell and died in mysterious circumstances at the Shela beach in Lamu where they were staying, in the course of their steamy and stormy love affair.

Lali was put on the dock for the death by the former DCI boss Kinoti, but got a reprieve from the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, who declined to prosecute him, leading to an inquiry into Tecra’s demise.

“This new local show, the first of its kind, will help viewers uncover the hidden truths, mysteries and hopefully offer some closure to some crimes,” said Namu.

He tries to deliver in The Missing Millionaire, the story of Samuel Teklemichael, born poor in Ethiopia, who became an entrepreneur in Kenya, achieving his dream until it turned into a nightmare in November 2021, when men purporting to be police pulled him from his Bentley in broad daylight.

Sad ending

“Was his country of origin responsible for Teklemichael vanishing, and why?” the documentary asks.

Then there is a story straight out of a John Grisham novel, except with a sad ending for its protagonist.

James Karanja was an auditor with a young family, great ambition and a very sleek BMW.

One evening, after looking at the books of the largest supermarket chain in the region, he jumped into his BMW and headed home, only to be gunned down.

His widow speaks of the event that heralded the great crash of the Goliath supermarket chain, Nakumatt.

The question is – had someone at Nakumatt cooked books and was now killing the messenger?