Cor­rup­tion, pol­i­tics, mur­der: anatomy of a Kenyan killing

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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