How crimes of passion break Kenyan homes
At least 20 cases of spousal attacks have been reported in the country in the past two weeks — leading to at least seven deaths, including that of a two-year-old child.
Police reports indicate that at least two other people have died by suicide, with over six others wounded, some with life-threatening injuries, over the same period.
Most male aggressors were between 30 and 35 years, according to reports seen by People Daily.
The contributory factors have been identified as stress, having another romantic partner, and refusal to have sex, among others.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) to Paul Kuria most of these attacks are by people in intimate relationships with the victims.
Quarrel with husband
On Sunday morning, Beatrice Adhiambo Ochieng, 32, killed herself in Ombasa village, Migori County, after a quarrel with her husband. This was after the husband left their home for an unknown destination, police said. Adhiambo did not write a suicide note.
“Many of these attacks are due to long-lasting tensions or stressful relations. Unfortunately, partners do not think it has reached a serious level, or believe their partners cannot harm them,” Kuria said.
He urged couples to speak to each other, saying inter-spousal communication helps in lowering family tensions.
On Wednesday last week, a quarrel ensued between Judy Orengo Kitoli and her husband Victor Mubaha, 31, in Kiambiu slums of Buruburu estate, Nairobi County.
Judy stabbed her husband in the neck near the collarbone. He was taken to Mama Lucy Hospital by his sister but succumbed to the injuries while undergoing treatment.
“Immediately the wife realised her husband was dead, she surrendered herself to Buruburu Police Station where she was detained,” police said.
“Detectives visited the crime scene and recovered blood-stained clothes and the murder weapon, which was hidden in a cabinet drawer,” police added.
Cuts in the head
And in Esirisia village in Nambale, Busia County, Sylvester Oduori, 32, quarrelled with his wife, Harriet Ammoit, recently. He then took a jembe and hit her on the head and legs several times, breaking both limbs.
She sustained deep cuts in the head and died on the spot. The husband fled.
“Detectives, acting on a tip-off, arrested him in neighbouring Samia sub-county,” police said. He was later charged in court.
Some of these attacks have been over material resources in the home. Couples have been advised to consult each other frequently, especially on family resources.
Other factors include erroneous perceptions that partners who offer domestic and unpaid care, especially women, are not contributing enough to the family.
In Namanga, Kajiado Central, police are looking for a man who seriously injured his wife and then escaped. Elizabeth Wanjiru was on Wednesday evening stabbed by Hillary Otieno Ogembo after a domestic quarrel. She was taken to hospital, and police found her in stable condition.
“A blood-stained short trousers and kitchen knife were recovered from the crime scene. Detectives have launched a manhunt for the suspect,” sources said.
Reports show that some attacks are due to love triangles. “Partners feel they have invested significantly in terms of emotional attachment and will react violently to an outside love affair,” Kuria said.
On Thursday last week, in Shauri Moyo, Nairobi County, a man was attacked by the boyfriend of a woman he was with.
The chairman of Kajificheni Nyumba Kumi, David Wahome, said Samwel Kalasu, 40, was found lying unconscious with stab wounds in the head and lower back.
Police later established that he had gone to the woman’s house at 2 am and was later ambushed by the boyfriend, who was armed with a sharp weapon.
The attacker and the woman fled the scene. The victim was taken to MSF Hospital in Eastleigh and was later transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital after his condition deteriorated,” police said.
On August 22 in Kihunguro, Ruiru, Godfrey Mwoki and his wife Francisca Mwihaki disagreed over the custody of their daughter, aged seven.
Mwoki picked a panga and slashed his wife and brother-in-law before he was disarmed. The victims were taken to Medirex Medical Clinic and later transferred to a Nairobi hospital for specialised treatment.
On August 21 in Elgon View Estate in Langas, Eldoret South, Winnie Wangari Maina, 35, stabbed her husband Wycliffe Murithi Miriti, 33, following a domestic quarrel. “The wife rushed him to Reale Hospital in a family car. He was referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. A blood-stained knife was found in the house and will be used as an exhibit,” detectives said.
Police say it is usually hard to prosecute such cases since some crucial details are withheld or modified by families and kids.
Also, potential witnesses are usually family members, in-laws and close friends, who alter the details.
“It becomes difficult to know what exactly happened, hence hard to have a water-tight case in court”, said Kuria.
On Sunday, August 21, a middle-aged man died by suicide after he unsuccessfully tried to kill his estranged wife and daughter in Nasra estate, Njiru sub-county.
The wife sustained stab wounds while the daughter, who suffered severe burns, died later in hospital.
Lured wife out
Dennis Musyoka, 34, had lured his estranged wife, Elizabeth Munyalo, to take him to their daughter so they could bond.
When Elizabeth and her daughter arrived at the place he had parked a car, he welcomed them inside, pulled out a knife and stabbed her four times.
She jumped out of the car, leaving the daughter behind. Musyoka then sprinkled petrol on the car and set it alight, the daughter still inside.
The country has witnessed an increase in domestic violence recently. Most killings resulting from these are usually perpetrated by enraged men. According to the National Crime and Research Centre, contributory factors have been identified at individual, family, community and wider society levels.
Three weeks ago, a matatu driver killed his lover and set their house on fire before he escaped at Kayole Junction. Preliminary investigations reveal that Ambrose Murimi Karugu, 35, killed the woman at their residence in Kayole Junction, along Kangundo Road. A few days after that, he set the house on fire. He was later arrested and charged with the crime in court.
In another case, late last month, Francis Ondabu, 23, killed his wife Anastacia Moche, 18, at Gesabakwa in Nyangusu, Kisii County. Two hours later, he took poison and died in hospital.
In June, a retired Kenya Army colonel stabbed his wife three times. She later succumbed to the injuries. This was after Jeremiah Ochwada Musumba, 68, quarrelled with his wife, Christine Anyango Ochwada, 63, at their rural home in Nangosia, Samia sub-county.
Resort to suicide
Notably, some spouses resort to suicide after domestic disagreements.
On July 20, for example, a 63-year-old man shot himself dead at his estranged wife’s house in Muthangari, Nairobi. The wife reportedly refused to reunite with him and return to their matrimonial home.
Iyaz Mukhi, 63, a civilian firearm holder, went to Haadi Apartments along Muthangari Road where his wife had moved to. The two had been living apart for 10 months, according to relatives. When the wife declined a reunion, the dejected man shot himself in the chest, very close to the heart.
At least 40 people have committed suicide across the country in the past month, according to the police.
Mental health experts and psychologists have identified marital problems, including divorce, as some of the leading causes of suicide.
On December 2, 2021, High Court Judge George Odunga, while upholding the sentence and conviction of Stephen Ngila Nthenge, who was jailed for 30 years for chopping off the hands of his wife, Jackeline Mwende, in 2016, offered the public a crucial life lessons.
While not encouraging couples to separate after minor incompatibility and temperament, Odunga said: “Where a marriage has irretrievably broken down, and the glue that brought the couple together has lost its strength, that marriage ought to be legally put asunder to save lives. One should know when to walk away … and when to run.”