An 11-year old girl has told police how she helplessly watched her younger sister being killed by a woman who was hosting them in Makueni County, The Nairobian reports.
According to the report, the two children were living with Scholastica Kilonzo together with her daughter, Winnie Mumbe, at a farm in Kasaoni village, Kalawa division.
They started living with Scholastica after their mother, Benedetta Kasalu neglected them. On the fateful day, Scholastica’s daughter Winnie allegedly tortured one of the girls aged 7 to death.
The report revealed that Winnie gave the girl Sh10 to buy steel wool, but the latter did not hand over Sh5 change. This reportedly angered Winnie to the point of viciously attacking the minor.
She tied a rope around the girl’s neck then started pulling her across the floor until she became unconscious. Then, she ordered two farmhands identified as Dennis and Yusuf to stuff the body in a sack and throw it in a thicket. The body was however recovered a day later.
The dead girl’s sister reportedly witnessed the torturous punishment leading to the death from a distance as she washed utensils.
“Before her mistreatment that led to her death, she told me that she lost the five shillings on her way from the shop. Winnie started beating my sister telling her that she had hidden the money. She was beating her using firewood. She beat her on her back while she was lying down and Winnie’s foot was pressing hard on her neck,”she said in her statement translated into Kiswahili by Richard Mwaura, the Mbooni East DCIO.
She added: “Dennis and Yusuf came back from the bush with the same sack and Dennis took it back to the store. Mbula then left. Later, Winnie threatened me as she sought to find out if I had witnessed what had happened. She threatened to also kill me if I told anyone what she had done to my sister. She also threatened Dennis and Yusuf.”
However, Police investigators in Nairobi are trying to establish whether the two minors had been kidnapped from their Kibra home in 2013 and if Winnie and her mother subjected the girls to forced labour.
It is alleged that the minors’ tasks, after attending morning classes, included keeping off squirrels from their foster home’s six-acre land.
According to local OCPD Peter Njeru who corroborated the girl’s account after interrogating Dennis and Yusuf, who reportedly revealed that Winnie attempted to cover up the murder by intimidating key witnesses.
“The accused (Winnie) was arrested and charged with murder but she is out on bond, which is her constitutional right. But I am keenly following up the case which could also have involved child abuse and forced labour,” said the Mbooni East police boss.
However, the mother of the children has revealed a new twist to the story. She claims that her children were forcefully taken from her by Scholastica in 2013. Kasalu, 25, was employed by Scholastica in 2012 as a house help in Kibra before being moved to Kalawa the following year together with her two daughters.
She reportedly later quit the job and returned to Nairobi with her two children. It is claimed that Scholastica traced Kasalu’s residence in the slums, and through an emissary known to the minors, convinced the girls to move back with her to Makueni.
The two girls were then taken back to Kalawa and reportedly enrolled in school. Meanwhile, Benedetta Kasalu, through the help of local social community workers Purity Kawira and Hellen Thairu is said to have reported to authorities that her children had been kidnapped by a person well known to her.
“I did not kidnap the children, but was protecting them from their abusive mother, who had threatened to kill them twice. It is not true that I subjected them to forced labour. I only assigned them duties that they could handle,”stated Scholastica.
Post mortem results from Machakos Level 5 Hospital indicated that the girl died as a result of asphyxia combined with a blunt force trauma and strangulation. “Winnie claimed that my child had been bitten by a snake while looking after goats, which is not true. All I want is justice,” says Kasalu.