Detectives investigating the gangland-style shooting of Kabete MP George Muchai are pinning their hopes on footage from surveillance cameras on Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi, to help them identify the killers.
The scene of murder, opposite Nyayo House, is about 20 metres from closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras installed last year.
Nairobi County’s CCTV Control and Command Centre is situated at Nyayo House, a few metres from the scene.
On Saturday evening, Head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro told the Sunday Nation that he was yet to receive CCTV footage from the county government.
“We are pursuing all channels in our search for answers,” said Mr Muhoro, who acknowledged the importance of the footage in the investigations.
Mr Muchai was shot dead by unknown assailants near the Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway roundabout at around 3am on Saturday morning.
His two bodyguards and driver were also killed in the attack a few metres from the heavily guarded Nyayo House — the city regional headquarters.
The killers stole the officers’ firearms. However, a Ceska pistol belonging to Mr Muchai was found at the scene.
Some witnesses claimed that a briefcase had been taken from the MP’s car, but police records seen by the Sunday Nation did not indicate that.
The two officers killed with the lawmaker were identified as Constable Samwel Lekakeny Mutonto and Constable Samwel Kimathi Kailikia while the driver is Mr Stephen Wambugu.
The shooting, which lasted less than one minute, was witnessed by vendors selling newspapers at the roundabout.
President Uhuru Kenyatta led other leaders in sending condolences to the MP’s family. The President said: “Hon Muchai was a true servant of the people and his death is a huge loss not only to his family and the people of Kabete Constituency whom he served with dedication but to the entire nation.”
He assured Mr Muchai’s family that investigations were underway, and that he expected police to mobilise all resources to ensure the criminals who killed the four are arrested.
Other messages came from Deputy President William Ruto and Cord leader Raila Odinga, among others.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli asked police to move with speed and identify the killers of his deputy to end speculation over the murder.
Mr Atwoli and Mr Muchai recently had an acrimonious fallout over the running of Cotu affairs and were facing off in court.
The lawmaker, accompanied by his bodyguards and driver, had left Galileo’s Lounge in Westlands and were driving into town in two vehicles.
Mr Muchai and his bodyguards were being driven in one while his family was in the other.
Witness accounts pieced together by the Sunday Nation team that visited the scene immediately after the shooting indicated that as the MP’s vehicle turned onto Kenyatta Avenue from Uhuru Highway, it slowed down, supposedly to allow the occupants buy an early edition of the Saturday newspapers.
The witnesses said a white Toyota Probox, which appeared to have been trailing Mr Muchai’s vehicle, suddenly appeared and hit the MP’s vehicle on the rear right door before two masked gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles got out and shot at the occupants.
The assailants then sped down Kenyatta Avenue.
The attack took less than a minute. “The vehicle slowed down and when I ran towards it to sell newspapers to the occupants, another car came from behind and hit it, forcing the driver of the MP’s car to move to the edge of the road. Then two men, who had covered their faces, came out of the white vehicle and started shooting,” a newspaper vendor, who did not want to be named, said.
Police on Saturday recorded his statement.
One of the gunmen, the witness said, had covered the firearm he was using with a black cloth that looked like a pullover.
The vendor added that he and his colleague escaped from the scene and, when everything was quiet, they returned to find all four occupants dead.
The MP’s beige Toyota Fortuner had two bullet holes on the windscreen while the back right window was shattered. The four, according to detectives, were shot at close range.
Detectives who arrived at the scene, led by Nairobi County Criminal Investigations Officer Nicholas Kamwende and the Nairobi Deputy County Commander Joseph Limo, found four spent AK-47 cartridges of 7.62 calibre, indicating a clinical operation that used only a few bullets.
The victims’ mobile phones were found and police collected them as part of the exhibits from the scene to help establish who they may have been in contact with.
Two bullets exited through the rear windscreen, and police say the killing was witnessed by the MP’s daughter, nephew and other family members who were driving behind him in a different car.
Apparently, they were driving to town to drop one of the guards and driver at the city centre.
Occupants of the second car corroborated eye-witness accounts that the MP’s vehicles slowed down before the shooting.
“They just started spraying it (the vehicle) with bullets. When their car stopped, our driver sped past it. When we were ahead, we heard gunshots and when we came back to the scene a few minutes later, all the occupants of the vehicle were dead,” a relative told detectives at the scene.
Another newspaper vendor told the police that one of the gunmen who led the shooting wore a face mask. The bodies of the four had bullet wounds in the head and chest. They were removed from the scene at around 6.30 a.m.
UNDER CCTV SURVEILLANCE
Legislators who arrived at the Lee Funeral Home asked the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing, saying it would be easy to get the murderers as the scene of the crime is under the surveillance of CCTV.
We were, however, unable to establish whether the footage was indeed available following reports last year that some of the cameras were not working.
Earlier, on Saturday morning, detectives visited the Galileo’s Lounge on Chiromo Road, Westlands, where the lawmaker and his relatives were last seen before driving to town.
Galileo security manager John Mbugua confirmed that Mr Muchai and his relatives met at the restaurant and even danced before the manager escorted him to the gate.
His vehicle had been parked outside the venue. Detectives were said to be interested in the CCTV footage of the area where Mr Muchai and his family had gathered.
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi said Mr Muchai had been threatened many times and had reported the threats to police. “The CCTV clips should be handed to the detectives as soon as possible. There is no way the perpetrators will not be known,” he said.
The MP had also previously reported a shooting incident in Nairobi in which he claimed he was targeted. Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, who arrived at the crime scene in the morning, asked the government to take the safety of legislators seriously.
Detectives are also expected to unravel why the gunmen attacked without any resistance. Security lapses have been witnessed in other incidents where senior politicians have been targeted at public functions.