Three chilling hours before Willie Kimani's murder

KImani, his client and driver were brutally killed in an open field on Mombasa-Nairobi Highway

In Summary

• Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri had been driven while handcuffed inside the boot of Senior Sergeant Fredrick Leliman’s car to a nearby bush where they were to be executed.

• About 10 pm Mwenda, who was the main target, was killed. He was strangled to death with a rope and a nylon paper. 

AP officers Fredrick Leliman, Leonard Mwangi, Silvia Wanjiku and Stephen Cheburet at Milimani law court during a past hearing in the lawyer Willie Kimani murder case. /PHILIP KAMAKYA
AP officers Fredrick Leliman, Leonard Mwangi, Silvia Wanjiku and Stephen Cheburet at Milimani law court during a past hearing in the lawyer Willie Kimani murder case. /PHILIP KAMAKYA

At last, we heard it, the informer's confession that lawyers for the alleged killers tried and tried to suppress. The informer even recanted.

Human rights lawyer Willie Kimani was stuffed into the boot of a car alongside his client and taxi driver for more than three hours as his alleged killers debated whether to kill them. All were handcuffed from behind.

The three, who were brutally murdered three years ago, could have been listening to them argue the merits of murder on June 23, 2016.


Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri had been driven inside the boot of Senior Sergeant Fredrick Leliman’s car to a nearby bush where they were to be executed.

Chief Inspector Geoffrey Kinyua on Monday read out the confession recorded by police informer Peter Ngugi to an emotional, packed courtroom. He narrated in excruciating detail how the three were killed.

Four Administration Police officers -  Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, and Leonard Mwangi - are charged with the murders alongside informer Ngugi.

In the confession two names are prominent, Leliman and Mwangi.

Another name frequently mentioned was that of another officer named Kamenju, who is still at large.

Ngugi said they had arrested the three victims earlier in the day after he trailed Mwenda to court and later, alongside Leliman and Leonard Mwangi, they jointly arrested them and took them to Syokimau AP Post.

However, later at 7 pm when they learnt that Kimani had contacted his wife, they decided to go to the AP post and later to the bush.


While still in the boot, they were followed in another car by Kamenju.

They drove from the AP post to the Mombasa-Nairobi highway before diverting to the bush. Kamenju joined them a few minutes later.

“We started disagreeing on how to execute the victims, Sgt Mwangi and I were of the view that we had already exposed ourselves the moment the victims were placed in custody and we thought the best thing was to release them," Ngugi said.

However, Leliman and Kamenju insisted that they must be killed and they debated over the act for more than three hours. 

At about 9 pm a police officer at the weighbridge joined several civilians as the public wondered what they were doing there.

Kamenju said they were officers on duty.

“At around 10 pm Mwenda who was the main target was killed. He was strangled to death using a rope and a nylon paper. He was removed from the boot of Leliman’s car and placed on the ground. His body was put in a sack and put in Kamenju’s boot,” confession reads.

At 11 pm, the second victim was picked from the boot and taken to a different corner from where Mwenda was killed. He was put into two sacks because as he was tall. The sack was put over the head and the other from the legs and joined at the hip by a rope.

The last victim — Willie Kimani — was killed almost immediately after the second victim was placed in the boot alongside Mwenda while the other victim was put in Kamenju’s car.

They were all killed using a rope and nylon paper.

Ngugi says his job was to guard them before handing them over to Mwangi who took them to the killing area.

Leliman and Kamenju were waiting there and after the killing, they put them in sacks in the boot.

After all three were killed, Ngugi drove Leliman's car that had two bodies while Kamenju drove the other one.

Kamenju led the way as he knew the Ol Donyu Sabuk area where the three were to be executed.

Kamenju had previously worked there and would help dispose of the bodies.

They took a rough road and got to a bridge where they stopped, removed the bodies and threw them separately into the river.

After disposing of the bodies they drove back way to Mlolongo at 4 am where they ate at an Asian restaurant.

On Monday Justice Jessie Lessit was also told of a chronology of events carefully crafted several days leading to the murder.

In the said confession that Ngugi has disowned, he says in 2011 he was approached by a Kabete OSC named Lelei who later recruited him as an informer.

In 2016, he met Leliman through Lelei when he visited him after he was transferred from Busia to Mlolongo. 

“I kept visiting the OCS and that’s when I got to know senior Sergeant Leliman who was a SPiv team member,” the confession reads.

In early May of 2016, while he was at the Mlolongo police canteen, Leliman asked for assistance.

“He told me that there was an issue bothering him, saying he encountered a situation that forced him to shoot at thugs on a motorbike, injuring one person, and the victim wanted him sacked and jailed," Ngugi told the police.

Leliman told him Mwenda was pushing for his dismissal and that he was being assisted by Ipoa for a hearing on June 23.

Kimani was representing him.

“The case was set for hearing on June 23, 2016, therefore we must act the next day when he comes to court,” Leliman was quoted as saying.

They met a day before the hearing and Leliman told him the plan to kill Mwenda was on course.

He wanted Ngugi to follow Mwenda after court and inform a lady who would show him the target.

He was given a different mobile phone.

On the day of the case, he left his house at 5.30 am and arrived for the Mlolongo meet at 7.30 am.

Leliman drove a while Nissan Wingroad with a woman in the back seat.

Leliman said she would identify the "wanted man" but did not give out her name.

They took a matatu to Mavoko law courts and Ngugi was given Sh2,000 to share with the lady. He had previously received another Sh2,000 as fare.

Upon arrival at 9 am the woman showed him the target at a distance of about five metres.

He says he identified him quickly with Leliman describing him as "Kamutu nyama ndogo."

“I remained until 11 am when Mwenda came out and I realised he was with another man,” the court heard.

He inquired about the other person and was told the other man was a thief - Willie Kimani.

The two went straight to their car that had a driver while Ngugi went to Leliman’s car outside the court where they found a Sergent Mwangi.

He was told Mwangi was part of the operation.

The vehicle carrying the targets drove past them but was caught up at a railway crossing.

“Just when we were about to overtake them, Mwangi took out his phone and told them to stop. They stopped and immediately myself and Sgt Mwangi told them we were officers and they were under arrest,” the court heard.

They complied and were put into Leliman’s car. Ngugi took possession of their car and drove it to dispose of it.

Ngugi said he realised that the route was dangerous because anybody could have noticed the car was not being driven by the owner. It didn't have enough fuel and refuelling was dangerous.

He drove to Limuru and abandoned the vehicle at Kwambira at 3 pm.

“The other thing disturbing my mind was the phones left in the car by the victims were ringing all the time, I switched off four of the five phones. I was unable to switch off one of them. After parking I threw them away," the confession reads.

He went back to Mlolongo and was told the three had been locked up at Syokimau AP post.

The court was told that after the bodies had been dumped, they went to a pub for food and drinks.

Leliman left at 4.30 am followed by Mwangi and at around 6 am, Kamenju left the bar leaving Ngugi behind.

“I had taken a lot of beer and blacked out. I stayed in the bar till 4 am when I went home," Ngugi said.

After three days he went back to the Mlolongo to visit OCS Lelei who suspected nothing.

Thereafter, Leliman and Mwangi were arrested

He claims that Lelei told him that "Unaona vile hawa watu walifanya ujinga na wanafanya mambo yao na hawawezi kuniambia. [You see the silly things these people did and yet they can't tell me.]".

Ngugi said he didn’t respond as he knew what had happened that night.

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