The grave of Lucy Njambi, who was raped and forced to take acid, is still fresh a week after her burial — a reminder of the mystery behind a murder most foul.
As investigators continue to piece together her last days, some tell-tale text messages have emerged revealing a terrified woman walking in the shadows of death and silently seeking help.
“If I die, take care of Immanuel for me. Baba Njoro amenichapa sana kichwa na mbavu (Njoro’s father has injured me on the head and ribs),” she wrote to her aunt last year.
Lucy had good looks, which possibly hid her pain. On her Facebook page, she called herself ‘Apple Girl’ or ‘Red Apple Swits’ and posted pictures of herself and her son, Immanuel.
The apple has fallen, and as the flowers on her grave wither, the pain and agony of a bitter family still shows when the Saturday Nation team returned to the homestead where she is buried.
It is the second mysterious murder in the family, and Lucy’s grandmother, Margaret Njambi, is still lost for words over the double loss of her son and grand daughter.
Lucy’s ex-husband, former Riruta Ward MCA Samuel Ndung’u, has been charged in connection with her death on the night of January 24.
Post-mortem results confirmed Lucy had been raped, strangled and forced to swallow acid the night she died. She was then dumped at Kamiti Corner, a notorious spot where carjackers dump their victims in the deserted Kiambu area straddled by coffee estates.
It was here that Lucy, who had been left for dead, managed to flag down a vehicle which took her to Kiambu hospital for treatment, before she was transferred to the Kenyatta National Hospital where she died. By then, she had spoken to the police and family members about her ordeal.
Lucy was brought up by her grandmother after the death of her mother, a single parent, in 2004. Her mother died when Lucy was only 10.
“Her mother Mary Nyagiko conceived her while still living with me. I catered for all her maternity needs and as our customs allow, the baby was named after me. Right then, I knew Lucy was my responsibility. In 2004, my daughter died of menengitis and left Lucy under my care,” recalled Lucy’s grandmother, Njambi.
Ms Njambi saw Lucy through primary school at Kahugu-ini where she sat for her KCPE exams in 2000 and later at Ng’enda Secondary School, where she attained a C plus in her KCSE exams in 2011.
“She was great in school and loved learning. Unfortunately, I could not educate her beyond that level. I wanted to but I couldn’t afford it,” said Ms Njambi.
Although she could have qualified to go to a private university, Lucy was enrolled at St Gabriel Catholic College in Gatundu for her certificate in International Computer Driving License (ICDL) before taking a diploma course in cosmetology.
It is before she was employed at a Korean restaurant in Nairobi’s Hurlingham, that Lucy started dating the man now charged over her mysterious death.
In 2012, Lucy’s uncle, a taxi operator in Roysambu, was mysteriously killed and his body dumped near Thika’s Blue Post Hotel.
“The two had been friends, had grown up and schooled together for many years. I later learnt that he (Samuel) was the one who paid for my son’s coffin,” recalled Ms Njambi.
Though she says her late son was opposed to the relationship between Lucy and Samuel, there is still no link to the two deaths.
“I knew my son was against their relationship. Could he have been killed to pave way for Lucy’s marriage to Ndung’u? Is there a link between the two mysterious deaths?” she wonders loudly.
Her son’s death was reported at Kasarani police station and up to this day, the family says no one has been apprehended. They have given up on the investigations.
Shortly after her uncle’s death, Lucy called her grandmother with the news that she had quit her job and was now married.
“I asked her if that was what she had decided for herself and she said yes. What else could I have done other than to accept it?” she asked.
According to the family, Lucy seemed to be doing well in her new marriage.
“Things were okay. Lucy even featured in Ndung’u’s campaigns. The following year she gave birth to her son and Ndung’u won the Riruta ward seat,” recalled a relative.
But conflicts set in.
“Lucy kept running from her matrimonial home and her husband kept coming for her,” her grandmother said. “At times we would wake up to find his car parked at the gate at 6am and other times at 5am when I was going to milk my cows.”
Ndung’u is alleged to have started spying on his wife at the village and at her work place in Roysambu.
Last year, Lucy confessed to some relatives and friends that her life was in danger. However, she would be lured back home with promise of money and a car. Ndung’u also paid dowry in an effort to win her back.
“That day, he asked her not to leave the house until he arrived for the dowry ceremony. He also warned her against speaking to the friends he would show up with. Lucy wondered why she was being forbidden from interacting with the people who would be part of her life owing to their relationship with her husband,” recalled her aunt, Ms Fidelis Muthoni.
A week after the ceremony, Lucy left her matrimonial home and put up with her aunties before going back to her grandmother’s home. She spent December holidays and Christmas there and in January, she rented a house in Thindigua.
“Determined to move on, she bought new equipment to set up a salon. She named it ‘Amazing Beauty Salon’. She kept saying she was determined to refund all the money that Ndung’u had spent on her. She dreamt big but died having not fulfilled her vision,” said Muthoni.
Lucy was buried next to her mother’s grave.
“I ordered her grave be dug next to her mother’s because when things got worse, she would cry kneeling at her mother’s grave begging her to come pick her up,” said her grandmother.
The events that led to her disappearance are still vivid in her son’s mind.
“Alichukua chakula alafu akapanda gari (she took her food and then went away in a car,” said Emmanuel. “Akamwagiliwa acid… akirudi, nitamwambia asiende tena. Akae huku (They poured acid on her. If she comes back I’ll tell her not to go there again).”
He was not aware that her mother would never go back home again.
The family is now living in fear.
“It’s been hard for us to sleep at night. We get nervous when strangers visit us,” Ms Njambi said.
Last week, Ndung’u denied taking part in the events leading to his wife’s death. Through his lawyer, Mr Robert Mutitu, the former MCA, told the court that he had been abducted alongside his wife but he managed to escape.
The case came up for mention at Kiambu High Court on Friday.