Sacked driver burns himself to death in employer’s matatu in Nyeri

A man views the matatu in which the driver Joseph Karanja, 57, burnt himself to death at Ngooru Secondary School

A man views the matatu in which the driver Joseph Karanja, 57, burnt himself to death at Ngooru Secondary School

A sorrowful mood engulfed Ihururu village, Tetu in Nyeri County Saturday after a man allegedly burnt himself to death in his employer’s matatu.

According to Tetu OCPD Stephen Obara, Joseph Karanja, 57, had delivered the brand new matatu at his employer’s house at Ngooru Secondary School teachers’ quarters.

His employer is a teacher at the school.

Mr Obara said the driver operated one of the matatus which the teacher owns.

Mr Karanja had brought the new vehicle at around 11.00pm Friday according to the teacher.

The teacher said that she had employed Karanja as a driver of her matatus for a period of one and a half years.

She had warned him to improve on his driving but when he failed to do so, she sacked him when he brought the new vehicle.


The OCPD said that an hour and a half after Karanja’s arrival at the teachers’ quarters, the school’s principal heard an explosion.

The principal’s house is next to that of the teacher.

Mr Obara said the head teacher thought the explosion had been caused by an electric fault but after he switched off his lights, he saw light coming from outside his house.

“The head teacher realised the light was coming from the matatu and he rushed outside to relocate his vehicle since it had been parked close to the matatu which was on fire,” said Mr Obara.

The OCPD added that after the head teacher moved his car, he alerted others in the compound and as they attempted to put out the fire, they saw the driver’s severely burnt body.

Mr Obara said the matatu owner could not understand how the driver opened the vehicle since he had left all the vehicles’ keys with her.

“It seems like he had duplicated the car keys and after he was sacked he decided to kill himself,” said Mr Obara.

He confirmed that inside the vehicle, there was a container with petrol and Triatix, a pesticide which Mr Karanja is suspected to have consumed before setting himself on fire.


According to the OCPD, the late Karanja had previously attempted suicide but was rescued before he killed himself.

He said that Mr Karanja’s employer had also revealed that he was a widower after his wife died five years ago.

He however said police officers are still conducting investigations to find out the real cause of Mr Karanja’s death.

Mr Obara urged area residents to try advising their troubled relatives to avoid such incidents.

He called upon the residents to report anyone seen attempting to commit suicide saying that such people needed counselling.

“Probably if Mr Karanja’s relatives had reported the earlier suicide attempt case to our police station, we could have dealt with the case and tried to reform him,” he said.

However, according to a villager who sought anonymity, Mr Karanja allegedly had an affair with his employer whose husband had also earlier died.

The source alleged the two had been living together at the teachers’ quarters for quite a while until recently when they started disagreeing.

The source also alleged that the two had on Friday been seen debating about a certain issue for the entire day before the incident happened.




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