At 29, Bernard Wandeto, a financial engineering graduate, was just setting off in his career and had a lot to look forward to in life, such as raising his three-month-old baby girl.
But, as others ushered in the new year with merrymaking, a nightmare was just unfolding for the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology graduate.
The horror would see the Starehe Boys Centre alumni dead in a week, his life snuffed out because of missing dogs.
It’s a shocking turn of events that cast a pall over his family in Ruai. Now, as the flowers on his freshly dug grave in Murang’a County begin to wither, his family is on a quest for justice.
How the search for two missing German shepherd dogs in Baraka could have led to the death of the only son of Ms Margaret Wanjiru, and leave his friend also seriously injured — he says his private parts were crushed — has bewildered their families.
It all started on New Year’s Eve when the three friends, Bernard, *Joshua and Moses, went out for a drink at an entertainment joint barely 300 metres from his home.
(*Joshua, 29, sought anonymity as he is afraid for his life because he is the sole surviving witness to the brutal beatings they received at the police station).
They had a good time, drank alcohol, played pool table, ate and drank some more. By midnight, Bernard was so drunk that he had to be carried to his home by his friends, who took him straight to his room.
“On the way home, Moses received a call from his mother telling him to rush because his elder brother was fighting with his wife and things would get out of control,” Joshua told Nation.
Quickly, the two rushed to Moses’ home but on their way met the two dogs, who started following them.
Not having time to trace their home, they decided to take the dogs to Moses’ home and look for their owner the next day. This was around 1am. The chaos at Moses’ home ended around 5am and Joshua left for his home accompanied by his friend.
“I woke up around noon and had a terrible hangover and went to a local drinking spot called Kwa Mathew where I met Moses speaking with two of our neighbour’s workers who were asking whether we had seen some dogs,” Joshua said.
They admitted to finding the two dogs and taking them to Moses’ home the previous night. Together, he, Moses and the two workers went to get the dogs but did not find them.
The workers told their boss, identified as Mwaura, who said Moses should be detained until he [Mwaura] returned but Joshua was allowed to leave.
“I went home and went back around 6pm only to hear that Moses had escaped from Mr Mwaura’s home. I was attacked by three men who I later on realised were officers from Makongeni Police Post,” Joshua said.
A few moments later, Bernard, was brought in by the same police officers. The two were asked to reveal where Moses was.
“We were beaten for hours,” said Joshua, then bundled in Mr Mwaura’s car and taken to Makongeni Police Post where the beating continued.
This was around 9 pm on New Year’s Day. Bernard somehow managed to inform his sister, Caroline Njoki, that they had been arrested. His sister, who was there when he came home drunk and even took a photo of him lying on a mattress on the floor, sent him the picture to use as his alibi.
“I was released on January 3 after my family paid a Sh5,000 bail. I later learnt that Bernard had been hospitalised,” he said.
While cooling his heels in the police cell, his friend’s condition deteriorated and he collapsed while talking to his mother and was rushed to a local hospital.
He was later referred to Kenyatta University Teaching, Training and Referral Hospital where he died. The post-mortem exam report showed that he died of blunt force trauma.
Ms Wanjiru reported her son’s death at Kamulu Police Station on January 9, under OB number 31/9/01/2023. The matter was transferred to the DCI at Ruai Police Station. Mr Mwaura’s car was impounded and is being treated as a crime scene.
Bernard was buried in Kabiria, Murang’a County, last Friday. The two dogs were later found.
Ruai Sub-county Police Commander Patricia Yegon told Nation investigations had been completed and the file had been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
She added that, if the DPP is satisfied with the evidence, the implicated police officers will face the full force of the law.