Sergeant Fredrick Leliman, a suspect in the murder case of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver, is now facing additional murder charges following investigations by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).
Lawyer Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri were kidnapped after leaving the Mavoko Law Courts on June 23, 2016. Their bodies were retrieved a week later from Athi River near Donyo Sabuk police post, stashed in gunny bags. Four police officers including Leliman were implicated in the killing of the three.
In the recent murder charges preferred by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji, Leliman and his then-boss Chief Inspector Stephen Lelei are accused of killing two people in Machakos County in 2016.
A report by IPOA indicates that the two police officers shot Jacob Mbai and Elizabeth Nduku in Mlolongo town and falsified a statement that the incident involved a shootout to repulse robbers.
“Upon an independent review of Ipoa’s findings, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) wrote to the authority and gave the green light to charge the officers with murder,” Ipoa’s Chairperson Anne Makori said in a Statement.
The officers face an additional charge of unlawful use of firearm, contrary to Section 26 A (1) (a) of the Firearms Act.
IPOA stated that the families of the victims had filed a complaint claiming sergeant Leliman, whom they identified as Maasai, shot the two after an altercation that had nothing to do with a robbery incident.
In a past interview with NTV days after the burial of the two,Jacob’s father said that after reporting the incident under OB number 34/28/5/2016 the police were hesitant to take any action.
“It is difficult for me to get justice for my son because I am dealing with people who have power,” he said.
The family claimed that Leliman and his colleagues threatened them to drop the matter.
On his part, Jacob’s uncle said on the day the 23-year-old was shot, he had closed his car wash shop in Athi River at 5pm. He decided to visit his elder brother who lived in Mlolongo, but first went to have tea near Way Bridge Gardens.
While enjoying tea with other customers, they heard gunshots from outside and rushed to see what was happening.
“They saw two police officers running after a young man who was running towards Mombasa Road. The police turned to the onlookers and started firing indiscriminately,” the uncle said.
“As the crowd ran in different directions, Jacob was shot by a stray bullet while scampering for safety at the hotel. The bullet injured his lower diaphragm and the spine.”
The uncle said on seeing that Jacob had fatally been injured the police claimed that they had killed a suspected robber. The crowd also realised that a woman had also been shot.
The irate crowd then confronted the police to know why they were shooting at innocent people.
“They demanded to know why the officers were shooting indiscriminately at them. The officers said a second thief had run in their direction and they were trying to catch him,” he said.
The two victims were rushed to Shalom Hospital by a good Samaritan and later to Machakos Hospital.
The two officers reportedly followed the victims to Shalom, requested for X-rays and left after establishing that there were no bullets in their bodies.
The two were later transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, where Jacob died. The woman succumbed to her injuries after days of showing improvement.
IPOA launched a probe after Jacob’s brother unsuccessfully tried to follow up the case with officers at the Mlolongo Police Station.
An officer identified as Baraza told him the two officers in the shooting incident had recorded statements on an exchange of fire that had resulted in the deaths of two people. He insisted on recording a statement on what he knew but the officer refused.
Meanwhile, the ODPP also preferred murder charges against seven other police officers in two separate incidents.
The officers include a corporal and four police constables who are accused of killing Mary Chepkorir Kiprotich in March 2020 at her home in Laikipia County. They are Harrison Mwa (inspector), John Kimweli Musau, Linus Kipngetich Terer, Joseph Mureithi, David Kipkemoi and Magdalene Nachapai.
Implicated in the third case are Constable Bernard Gachau and Sergeant James Mulwa who are facing murder and neglect of duty charges respectively.