One morning in July 2016, chilling news trickled in from a sleepy village in Machakos County, that a woman, Jackline Mwende, had been savagely attacked by her husband in a gruesome case of domestic violence.
Stephen Ngila, a 34-year-old tailor, had allegedly chopped off Mwende’s two arms and left her for the dead.
Mwende said her husband, with whom she had separated, had pounced on her with a machete for allegedly failing to bear him a child.
Ngila denied the charges of assault and attempted murder on his former wife. He was released on a Sh200,000 bond.
Kenyans, mostly women activists, were furious. They demanded that Ngila be castrated and condemned to the gallows.
Well-wishers rushed to her rescue, and now the 28-year-old has a new permanent house courtesy of Merck, a science and innovation organisation. They honoured their pledge by building her a four- roomed house, complete with solar system and a water tank.
LG Electronics took her to Seoul, South Korea where she was fitted with prosthetic arms.
Now Mwende is heavy with child - not her husbands - whose father she has declined to reveal, because they had allegedly come to a pact to keep it under wraps.
But on digging deeper, The Nairobian got a very different picture of Jackline Mwende, who confessed to having gotten pregnant by another man to save her childless marriage.
Ngila was arrested over the assault case, but villagers told The Nairobian that he received the saddening news of the attack on his wife like anybody else while busy at his tailoring shop in Masii town. Ngila closed shop and travelled to Machakos Level 5 Hospital where Mwende had been admitted.
Ngila was handcuffed and thrown into police cells, but has since been released on bond.
Why did Mwende finger her husband as her assailant? And who actually attacked Mwende if her estranged hubby was at a tailoring shop in Masii, which is 10 kilometres from her village as he claims?
Mwende claimed she discovered she was pregnant three days after sleeping with her ‘sperm donor,’ but that is not biologically possible.
At her Ilinge village home in Masii, Machakos County, neighbours and old friends described Mwende as Nduku wa Kiimani, a Kamba description for a woman of easy virtue.
Her neighbours told The Nairobian that they were happy for her about the pregnancy “because this will put to rest the gossip and stigma that is associated with barrenness.”
The Nairobian visited Mwende at her home and found her entertaining visitors at her father’s compound next to her new house. And while she appeared jovial, she evaded our questions, maintaining that she did not want to dwell on the past.
She also said that she was grateful to God and the well-wishers. “I thank God for bringing me this far,” she said.