I did not hire my husband's killers, secondary school principal tells court

Ichachiri secondary school Principal Jane Muthoni when she appeared before Murang'a court Photo: Boniface Gikandi

A woman accused of hiring the people who killed a school principal last year has denied playing any role in the murder.

Testifying yesterday in a case in which Jane Muthoni and Isaac Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu have been charged with the murder of then Kiru Boys Principal Solomon Mwangi, the woman, only identified by one name, Damaris, for her own safety, told the court she played no part in the killing of the headteacher.

Joseph Kariuki Njuguna alias Karis, who has confessed to participating in the murder, had told the court that Damaris called him with an offer of a well-paying job.

Njuguna was in March this year convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison by High Court Judge Joel Ngugi, who is hearing the murder case.

Damaris told the court that Njuguna’s allegations were baseless and insisted that she was a respectable business woman in Ruiru town.

She denied ever meeting Njuguna in the course of last year, adding that the last time she remembers dealing with him was about four years ago when she had employed him as a tout in one of her matatus.

“The allegations that I called Njuguna with a promise of giving him a well-paying job meant to eliminate the principal is not true at all. I have not even met him in the past four years. I only saw him last year on television after he was arrested in connection with the murder of the principal,” Damaris told the court.

She also denied Njuguna’s claims that she has been working with him and others to defraud innocent land buyers by selling them non-existent parcels.

She, however, admitted knowing Mwangi’s wife, Jane Muthoni, who is the first accused in the case.

The witness informed the court that a man identified as Nelson Njiru called her early last year and told her that there was a woman who needed help. Police are still looking for Njiru.

Damaris said they met at a hotel and Njiru introduced the woman as Jane Muthoni, the principal of Icaciri Secondary School in Gatundu South.

During the meeting, the witness said Muthoni said she wanted to give her and Njiru the job of retrieving text messages from her husband’s phone and that of a woman who worked as an M-Pesa attendant in Kiria-ini. Muthoni said she suspected that the woman was having an affair with her husband.

For that job, she told the court that Muthoni offered to pay Sh200,000.

Two days later, Njiru called and informed her that he had managed to retrieve the text messages and that he wanted to send her (Damaris) to Icaciri Secondary School to deliver them to Muthoni.

“I took the printed text messages, which were in an envelope, and delivered them to the first accused. She gave me Sh100,000. I later met Njiru and we divided the money before I went home,” she told the court.

However, she failed to provide any evidence that the principal had sent her money on her mobile phone, saying she had deleted the messages.

The witness told the court that Muthoni called again two days later, demanding more text messages, saying the ones Damaris and Njiru had given her were not sufficient to pin down her husband.

She also wanted her to find a person who could instal software in her phone to enable her to tap text messages from her husband’s phone and that of the woman he was allegedly having an affair with.

Damaris told the court that after informing Muthoni that she would not do the job, she stopped accepting her calls and replying to her text messages.

She said Njiru called her in November last year to inform her that there was a crisis as Muthoni had been arrested in connection with her husband’s death.

Njiru, she said, added that he had recorded a statement at the Murang’a office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and that he was being sought by detectives.

She told the court that Njiru told her he would not honour the summons but would instead go into hiding. The hearing continues today.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Njuguna described how Mwangi offered money to his killers and pleaded with them to spare his life.