The mystery surrounding the killing of controversial businessman Jacob Juma deepened yesterday as family and friends dismissed theories put forth by police on events leading to his death.
The family also accused the police of trying to orchestrate a cover up in the death of the 45-year-old.
Miriam Juma, the slain businessman’s wife, yesterday dismissed possible explanations offered by police on how her husband met his death.
“He always drove himself and he would wait until the roads are clear before he drives home. He normally used Lang’ata Road and not Ngong Road,” Miriam said.
“We talked regularly even on the fateful day. He hadn’t shown signs of being worried. But he had confided in me many times that some people are not happy with him and wanted to eliminate him.”
Her late husband did not trust the police, she said. The narrative provided on the businessman’s death raised questions, because first, there were no first hand witnesses even though Nairobi residents are notorious for crowding crime scenes.
All reconstruction of the murder has so far come from one source, on a day and time when such a scene would have caused a major traffic snarl-up on the road that links the city to the Karen suburb. Police say the shooting occurred around 9:30pm and the body was moved to Karen police station at 11pm.
“Given the traffic jam on Ngong Road, some motorists could have witnessed him being killed,” said prominent Nairobi businessman Jimmy Wanjigi.
Wanjigi, who is Juma’s brother-in-law and business associate, wondered why police quickly transported the body to City Mortuary before informing anyone.
“Juma’s phones were working. The police could have called his family or friends to inform them before taking further action. Rushing the body to the mortuary, not cordoning off the area and marking it as a crime scene is suspicious,” Wanjigi said.
A man who operates a boda boda near the alleged scene also had doubts. “Many vehicles pass through this road. It is not possible that they can kill someone here silently without anyone noticing,” he said.
Security guards near the entrance of Lenana School on duty that night said they did not hear any shooting.
A few feet from where the car stopped is a steep valley which family members believe the car ought to have rolled into given that there was a gun fight. Women who tend to tree nurseries by the roadside near the scene said they only learnt of the accident on Friday morning when a few people came to witness what was happening.
“The police made no effort to control those coming here. They were only interested in towing the car and the dead man away,” said one woman, contradicting police reports that the body was taken to City Mortuary at 11pm Thursday.
The women said no one walks in the area from 7pm for fear of wild animals found in Ngong Forest.
Miriam, Juma’s wife, only knew of her husband’s death the next day.
Ngong Road has in the past suffered endless traffic snarl ups, sometimes from something as trivial as a stalled car on one side of the road. For a murder to occur on an open road in such a grisly manner, coupled with Kenyans’ habit of slowing down and peeking out of car windows to see what is happening, traffic would have at least backed up on the busy roads.
The police say Juma’s car was forced off the road and into a ditch by a saloon car. Gunmen from the saloon car and another on a motorcycle shot at the car. The police say that after firing severally at the car, the gunmen realised Juma’s Mercedes’s was armored.
One of the assailants then walked up to the car and using a hammer, shattered the driver’s window and proceeded to shoot at Juma from close range. What is the possibility of someone breaking open a window on which bullets had ricocheted off?
When The Standard on Sunday visited the murder scene, there was nothing to indicate a serious gun confrontation.
The alleged murder scene is some 40 metres from the beginning of the southern bypass and approximately 100 metres from the entrance to Lenana School. At the middle of the two-lane road, where a car is said to have blocked Juma’s Mercedes lies a fistful of broken glass.
The car swerved on the left and stopped after 10 metres. The driver avoided hitting a concrete electricity pole, merely scratching the front right of Juma’s bumper.
Relatives queried the possibility of Juma’s car being forced off the road into a ditch amid gunshots and have absolutely no damage on its frontage. The car’s bumper, headlights and indicators are all intact. Not even an inch of the car’s navy blue paint has been scratched off. The only visible damage is a scratch on the right side of the bumper.
“If he was forced off the road from the right, wouldn’t the damage be on the left, towards the direction his vehicle ground to a halt?” they asked.
A source close to the investigation said Juma’s car is now under 24 hour guard at Karen Police Station.
Karen Police district criminal investigations officer (DCIO) Kenneth Njoroge, the case lead investigator, says police have no leads on Juma’s killers but have appealed to whoever may have any information to pass it to them. Responding to accusations by the family that police tampered with the crime scene, he said scene of crime officers did their work and left at night.
Family members insist Juma he was assassinated by people who knew him well and chose to dump his body in an area that could perfectly be used to hide their heinous act.
Juma will be buried at his home in Mungore village in Bungoma County on May 14.