In 1998, there was a murder in Gigiri, Nairobi that led to a diplomatic fiasco between Kenya and Rwanda, and the subsequent closure of the Rwandese Embassy in the country. The victim of the murder was Seth Sendashonga — former Rwandese Minister of Interior.
Sendashonga was a man of many lives. In 1975 while a student, he formed and became the leader of a students’ movement that oppossed the rule of then Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana. He was forced into exile and ended up working for the UN Habitat in Nairobi. During his life in Nairobi he was actively involved in politics in Rwanda. He joined the Rwandese Patriotic Patriotic Movement in 1993, a rebel group led by Paul Kagame .
Following the signing of a peace deal between the government of Habyarimana, Sendashonga quit his job at UN Habitat in Nairobi and was appointed Minister of Interior. The peace deal didn’t hold for long, a new war broke out in April, 1994 following the death of President Habiarimana whose plane was shot down. Sendashonga, a Hutu found himself at odds with a Tutsi dominate army. He resigned his position and moved to Gigiri, Nairobi and opened a Forex Bureau.
First Assassination Attempt
On 26th February, 1996, there was an attempt on the life of the late Sendashonga at Nairobi West.
He was lured to a meeting by a family friend who claimed to be in possession of a document that showed a failed mutiny in the RPA. They met and in the end there was no document. The real reason he was called for the meeting showed itself in the form of two men who shot at him as he walked back to his car. He was wounded but not seriously. A suspect, Francis Mugabo, was arrested nearby by Kenyan police with a pistol, a silencer and thirteen 9mm bullets. He was attempting to dispose of the gun in the toilet of a petrol station when he was apprehended.
He and a nephew were wounded in the attack. The suspect, one Francis Mugabo was an attaché at the Rwandese Embassy in Nairobi. The Daily Nation ran an editorial after Sendashonga’s assassination attempt. It warned refugees against abusing Kenyan hospitality. It read in part, “Kenyans do not give them succour and sanctuary in order that they may continue their wars here. If they want to kill each other they should go back to their country and do it there.”
The Kenyan government requested for his diplomatic immunity to be waivered so that he could be charged and tried in the country, but the Rwandese government decloned the request and the case hit a dead end. The Kenyan governement upped the stakes by giving the Rwandans two choices: waive the immunity or they close your embassy in Kenya. The Rwandan Embassy was closed and Mugabo, who had been in police custody for months, was expelled along with 4 other diplomats.
The Assassin’s Creed
On February 1998, the Rwandese Embassy in Nairobi was reopened. Sendashonga pressed on with his quest to liberate Rwanda by meeting several dignitaries at the Rwandese Embassy. Strange people started following the Mr. Sendashonga. At one point some people went to his residence posing as police officers but when asked to identify themselves they left. The Special Branch of the Kenyan police was kept informed of all these maters.
On 13th may, 1998, Ali Abdul Nasser who a Taxi Diver was approached by a man who wanted to hire killers to eliminate Sendashinga who he claimed had swindled his father of some money. Ali Abdul was offered Kshs. 100,000 for the job. Ali who doubles as a police informer, decided to report to the police. He informed Chief Inspector Daniel Songol Seroney of C.I.D Nairobi.This was on 14th may, 1998.
Seroney in turn detailed two police officer Cpl Oburu and P.C. Ewoi to pose as killers ready to take up the assignment, with a view to eventually apprehend the hirer. The two police officers in company of Ali, went and saw the man who wanted to hire the killers. This man was identified as David Akiki Kiwanuka. The two police officers accepted the assignment but David informed them that he was expecting some guns form Uganda and a meeting was arranged for the next day, the 15th day of may, 1998.
On 15th may, 1998 the two police officers and Ali turned up as agreed but David never showed up. They again went back on 16th may, 1998 but once again David failed to turn up. Prior to this, David had shown Ali the house of Sendashonga his business premises – a Forex Bureau at Gigiri. On 16th may, 1998 at about 4.00p.m, two occupants in Motor vehicle Reg NO. UNEP 108K were shot at the junction of Limuru/Forest road.
Police received information and immediately rushed to the scene of the shooting. Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) Joseph Kimaru Chumo, the then D.C.I.O Gigiri was one of the first Police officers to arrive at the scene. He noticed that the man seated on the passenger seater was already dead while the driver who was seriously wounded was still breathing. He organized for the injured driver to be taken to Aga Khan Hospital.
Police received information that the attackers sped away in a getaway car whose description was given. At the scene of the shooting, S.S.P Chumo recovered one spent catridge. He also noticed that the dad man had a name tag reading “Sendashoga Seth UNEP”. He then went towards the direction taken by the suspects’ car along Wambugu Road. About 2 to 3 kms. Away from the scene of the shooting, the suspects’s car reg NO. KAJ 426Z had been abandoned. Inside the said car, Mr. Chumo recovered two more spent catridges similar tot eh one he had recovered earlier at the scene.
Nimish Shah and Agnes Ngina resided near the place where the suspects’ car had been abandoned. Both saw two peole leave the car hurriedly. These two people were very tall. The injured driver who had been rushed to hospital succumbed other injuries sustained and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Ali Abdul , who knew the home of David Kiwanuka led the police thereto and an ambush was laid. David was arrested on 19th may, 19998. He then led the police to Ngara where Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubangamlondo were arrested. On his arrest and subsequent interrogation, the David Kiwanuka confessed to Chief Inspector Seroney that he had now accomplished his mission and was ready to die. It also transpired that the other two men were in the plot to kill Sendashonga Seth. A search was conducted at the home David Kiwanuka where a Baretta pistol and 26 rounds of ammunition were recovered concealed in a flower pot.
On 19th May, 1998 David Kiwanuka made a statement that his father one Alaari Kakiza Kiwanuka worked both in Uganda as a Director of Immigration and in Rwanda in the office of the President. When the father of the David Kiwanuka worked in Rwanda, the late Sendashonga was the Minister for Internal affairs and were good friends. They met every other day in the home of David at Kigari and even did business together.
David’d father and the late Sendashonga happened to push a deal earning a sum of U.S. $50 million. The late Sendashonga took off with all the money and organized the elimination of David’d father. His father was killed. The family met and agreed that Sendashonga should also be killed. David Kiwanuka took it upon himself to accomplish the mission on behalf of his family.
The foregoing led to the hiring of Charles Muhanji and Christopher Lubangamlondo to carry out the task of killing the late Sendashonga. The two were paid some money and with it purchased a small pistol. On being tested it was fond to be weak and so they went for some more money to buy a better gun. They returned the small pistol to the first David.
Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni also gave a statement under inquiry where he said he had been recruited by Charles Muhanji to join the plot. The gun that was to be used to kill the late Sendashonga was however returned to the David. He did not know anything about the killing on 16th May, 1998 and only read about the same in the newspaper the following day.
The Court Case
The Pistol and ammunition recovered from the house of David Kiwanuka in a flower pot were examined by Mbogo Donald Mugo a firearm examiner. The pistol s/NO B258362 was a Crvena eastava made in Yogoslavia. It was in good general and mechanical condition, complete in all component parts and capable of being fired.
Another firearm, examiner Benson Gichuki Nduguga examined 3 spent 762 Mm caliber catridges. They were all fired form one Ak47 assault rifle. John Kimani Mungai, a Government Chemist examined some hair recovered from a comb found in the car abandoned by the killers alongside samples obtained form the three accused. His findings were that they were unrelated.
An identification parade was conducted where Nianish Shah and Agnes Ngina were the witnesses. Both had seen two people ran off from the abandoned car. None could identify any of the suspects. Inspector of Police John Kathae was the investigating officer. From the material gathered he investigated three key leads: revenge, assassination and political. In his opinion, the murder was political. He did not believe David’s story. By his statement, he intended to deceive the investigators.
When put on their defences, each of the three accused persons denied any involvement in the offences charged. They were each at their respective homes and not at the scene of the killing. After submissions and summing up to assessors, the three assessors returned a verdict of Not Guilty in respect of each of the three accused persons. The verdict was unanimous.
After 4 years of running the case, judge Amraphael Mbogholi-Msagha returned the verdict of not guilty.
Criminal Case 99 of 1998 at High Court at Nairobi (Milimani Law Courts
Read more on Predicting Murder Cases in Kenya here: http://blackorwa.com/2017/04/13/predicting-murder-cases-in-kenya/