Corruption, politics, murder: anatomy of a Kenyan killing
NAIROBI—On a wet Thursday night in early May, a well-known businessman and government critic was found dead in his armoured blue Mercedes by a busy road on the outskirts of Nairobi, five bullet holes in his chest, neck and arm.
Kenya’s long history of state violence meant the murder of Jacob Juma, who was in his midforties, was quickly viewed as a political assassination.
His death dominated the country’s newspapers as amateur sleuths picked holes in the police narrative of a business deal gone wrong, and opposition politicians cried foul.
It was a tricky case, the country’s senior detective Muhoro Ndegwa told journalists, with no witnesses and no weapon. He promised his team would do their best, but in the six weeks since his death no arrests have been made.
The arc of Juma’s life was unusual at first, and then unique: Kenya’s pervasive tribal patronage helped a poor but smart rural kid make the political connections necessary to get rich on ill-gotten government contracts.
But after he was cut out of a potentially lucrative mining deal he became a relentless anticorruption activist and government critic leading many to see politics behind his death.
Juma was “a scoundrel that bitterness turned into an asset for those fighting corruption,” says John Githongo, a renowned anti-corruption campaigner. “He became a fount of confidential treasury documents, information, history and gossip,” he says.—AFP