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Suspect in arson attack that killed seven family members takes plea

A man accused of committing arson in connection with a fire that killed seven family members in Ngimari Sub-location in Embu East Sub-county last year was today charged with murder.

The accused, Boaz Wanjala Iyati, appeared before High Court Judge Lady Justice Lucy Njuguna and was charged with seven counts of murder on the night of October 2, 2022.

Drama unfolded in court when the accused struggled with the court orderly after he declined to unmask his face until the judge intervened and ordered him to do so.

Wanjala is charged with killing Charles Njeru, 50, his wife Catherine Wanjiru, 46, their three children Judy Wanjiru, Mary Ann Murugi and Joel Njeru aged 23, 24 and 7 respectively as well as two grandchildren Tumaini Blessing, 5, and 3-year-old Prince Baraka.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges with the prosecution opposing his release on bond, noting he was a flight risk given that he did not have a known abode and also the gravity of the case.

The court heard that Wanjala set on fire the wrong house, killing all the occupants while aiming to murder his estranged wife Tabitha Wanja.

In a sworn affidavit by the Investigating Officer Samuel Onyamasi, the accused had days before the incident threatened to burn his former wife alive alongside her parents via a text message to her phone.

He later learnt that he missed his target after sending a message to her phone that she responded to and out of panic switched off his phone and went into hiding until January 7 when he was arrested by detectives in Ebuchangu village in Kakamega County.

The couple had two children together before they separated in 2021 when Wanja moved back to her parents’ home in Embu from her matrimonial home in Kakamega.

The matter was adjourned until February 20 when his pre-bail report will be presented in court.

By Samuel Waititu



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