6-year-old boy who was kidnapped as he left school in November 2012
By PHILIP BWAYO - email@example.com
Every time Mrs Hannah Nyakio Gachanja heard a vehicle pull up outside her humble home in the Lessos estate of Kitale, she would go to the door her heart beating faster in the hope that a good Samaritan had brought back her beloved son, Ian Gachanja.
A cheerful, bubbly six-year-old with big dreams, Ian walked off to school early in the morning of November 29, last year. It was the last time his mother would see him alive.
Police records indicate that on his way back home, he was lured to the house of a neighbour and family friend, Linus Kiptoo, who invited him to enjoy a meal of chapati.
Instead of serving him the food, Kiptoo, working with an accomplice, Obadiah Maina, kidnapped little Ian and took him away to an unknown place in Kitale township.
Ian’s kidnap came as a profound shock to Nyakio and her husband, Mr Albert Karanja.
But throughout the six months since the family last saw Ian, Mrs Gachanja held on to the hope that some day, somehow, her son would walk through her front door again.
On Saturday, that hope was shattered in the grimmest way. Ian’s body was found at the bottom of an 80-ft dry well.
His headless body was badly decomposed and only the clothes and shoes he wore on the day he disappeared could be relied upon to identify him.
“It is heart wrenching to realise that my son was killed a long time ago yet we have been living in the hope that he would come back safe. I thought that a good Samaritan would bring him back. Now I have left everything to God,” said a distraught and tearful Mrs Gachanja.
Ian’s disappearance and brutal murder highlights the growing crime and lawlessness in the country and casts the spotlight on the police and the judicial system.
The discovery of the body on Saturday, not far from the family home, caused widespread anger in Kitale town.
Locals tracked down Maina, one of the suspects who is out on bail and cornered him at the Nyayo Market next to the Kitale Bus Park and attempted to lynch him. They later burnt down his house.
Police had a difficult time controlling the surging crowds who were kept at bay after the officers fired in the air. A resident, Mr Joseph Wanjala, captured the mood of the wananchi: “We have decided to take the law into our own hands since we are not satisfied with the way the police are treating this matter. This man cannot go on terrorising the lives of our innocent children.”
Area deputy police boss Duncan Nguthu absolved the police from blame, saying the matter was before court and the suspect bailed.
“It is not true that we are protecting Maina because he is out on bail. We are warning the public against taking the law into their hands,” he said.
Away from the chaos on the streets, a family was reckoning with the anguish of private grief. Mr Karanja told the Sunday Nation how their nightmare began in the last week of November after Ian, a Standard One pupil at Sunshine Academy in Kitale, left home for school.
The businessman said one of the abductors, Kiptoo, was a good friend to the boy and was known to the family. They live in the same neighbourhood and the family considered him a friend.
After police interrogation, it appears Kiptoo lured the boy after promising him some chapati. When little Ian did not return home, the family was shocked and contacted the police. They soon realised what had happened after a Sh100,000 ransom note was left outside their house indicating that the boy had been kidnapped.
The parents quickly scrambled to raise Sh50,000 and sent it via M-Pesa. When one of the suspects, Kiptoo, turned up at a money transfer agent’s shop to withdraw the money, the police tracked him down and arrested him. They later detained Maina.
Despite the shock of the loss of their son, the anguished parents all along remained hopeful that Ian would be found alive.
But their hopes were shattered after Kiptoo who, unlike Maina, was still in detention after failing to raise bail, finally revealed to the police where they had dumped the body of the defenceless toddler.
It was found at the bottom of a deep well. This has raised questions on the motive of the kidnappers. Ian’s head was missing.
The body is at the Mt Elgon District hospital and a postmortem will be conducted in the next few days.
“We are waiting to know what was done to our son who we had looked for for the past six months only for us to realise that he had been killed,” said a grief stricken Mr Karanja.
There has been an upsurge in kidnappings in recent months as criminals move away from traditional crimes such as robbery.
But the kidnappers are almost always arrested due to advances in mobile phone tracking technology.
The cruelty of the abductors of little Ian and the brutality with which they dealt with an innocent six-year-old boy is bound to shock many.
* Culled from http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Did-this-boy-have-to-die-over-Sh50000/-/1056/1862950/-/wrdtqcz/-/index.html