, JULIE OWINO
NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 16 – It was supposed to be one of the ‘live happily ever after’ story for Irene Kendi—the 24-year-old widow of Samuel Ragira, popularly known as OCS—a former University of Nairobi student leader—whose life was abruptly cut short by bullets on Friday night, at a notorious eatery for students just outside the main hostels.
Kendi, is still struggling to come to terms with her husband’s death. The one call she received while in a salon that Thursday night has changed her life forever, and for the worst.
“I can’t believe my husband is dead. It seems like he’s going to come back home today in the evening,” she told Capital FM News on Saturday during a visit to her house in Kahawa West where the family lives.
“If only the police could speed up the investigations it will perhaps, help us understand who killed my husband, and why,” she said, fighting back tears, as she clutched on her three-year-old daughter, who did not seem to understand the gravity of the happenings around her.
When this writer arrived at the home, Kendi was in the living room surrounded by her friends and an aunt, who had gone to comfort her.
On the table was Ragira’s old photo, which his daughter kept playing with, often staring at the guests in the house.
Kendi described her late husband as a “charming and caring man’.
“I do not know how to explain to my daughter that his father has been killed under unclear circumstances. They were very close that she keeps on asking me when her dad will come back home. I just wonder why he was the one to take the bullet,” she narrated. Some of the students who identified themselves as Ragira’s friends from UoN also visited to comfort her.
In tears, Ragira’s widow asked the government to support her and her daughter as the late husband was the breadwinner of the family, and she has appealed to the Director of criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti to speed up the probe, leading to the arrest and prosecution of his killers.
“At the moment, I have no source of income, I don’t know how I will pay for my child’s (school) fees. I just want to request the government to support me as I start this new journey. I badly want the police to hurry and tell me who killed my husband so that I can move on in peace, ” she narrated amid sobs.
Ragira was shot dead at Club 36, commonly referred to as Klabuu, where students prefer seeking cheap meals off-campus, near the main hostels near State House.
Several theories have been advanced on why Ragira was killed, with some linking it killing to a vicious war between a gang operating at the notorious market, while others said he may have been killed by police—but Kilimani Police Chief Michael Muchiri denies the allegations, and has pledged to have the matter thoroughly investigated.
Ragira had posted Thursday evening a brief message on social media indicating that some armed people were out to cause chaos at the club with the sole aim of grabbing the land.
In a previous post on Wednesday, Ragira had said an armed group was extorting traders at the food joint.
“It is unfortunate that Mungiki are terrorizing Klabu 36 traders with machetes and guns taking advantage of the situation. They are demanding Sh 10,000 from every trader to build a kibanda (kiosk).”
“Students are being harassed and others losing their phones. We want to know why the police can side with people terrorizing innocent Kenyans,” Ragira added saying police were slow to act on the matter.
UoN Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mbithi, who described Ragira as “a humble being who was larger than life” has warned students against venturing to Club 36, because “it is dangerous.”
“Please note, Club 36 is not University of Nairobi property. It is run by people who are not UoN staff or students,” he tweeted Friday morning.
Professor Mbithi has released a list of 14 former students to police who are said to have long graduated or suspended but are still within the university premises and are believed to be terrorizing students. Students interviewed said Ragira was one of them because he was no longer a student there.
Some of the students who spoke to Capital FM News on Saturday outside Chiromo Funeral Home, where Ragira’s body is preserved, said there was increased insecurity around the University of Nairobi that has led two deaths in a week. One of the students is said to have died under unclear circumstances.
“It is just last Sunday when one of us died under very suspicious circumstances but the case was not considered a priority. This time we are not bowing down to any pressure until those behind the killing of Ragira are brought to book, ” said, Makori Orina, an aspiring student leader at the main campus in Nairobi.
They have threatened to mobilise their colleagues to stage protests next week, while accusing the Vice Chancellor of neglecting their grievances—mainly their safety. Students have been staging on-and-off protests mainly in the evenings since Thursday when Ragira was killed, prompting to station anti-riot police on State House road where they usually stone motorists.
“We want Professor Mbithi out of office,” one student who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals said, “he acts like he’s not one of us and yet he was once a student here.”
Babu Owino, the Member of Parliament for Embakasi East, who was once a students’ leader there was at the mortuary, where he condemned Ragira’s killing, and demanded justice.
“Students have a right to know the killers who should be punished as soon as possible,” he said.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Anthony Manyara, the Chairperson of the University of Nairobi Students Association claimed Ragira who unsuccessfully contested as Kilimani ward representative in the 2017 elections was shot by assassins donning police uniform.
Manyara asked the county government to cede the land occupied by Club 36 traders to the university so that the institution can assign business spaces to needy students to help them raise income to support their education.
Hundreds of University of Nairobi students at the main campus frequent Club 36 for meals due to cheaper food prices compared to food joints within the university premises.