By Lazarus Maitha
Ruth Mueni, the widow of 46-year-old John Mutinda, who plunged to his death at the Likoni Ferry channel last Saturday, has dismissed claims by Government spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna, that Mutinda had episodes of mental illness(es), which contributed to the fatal accident.
Speaking at the Likoni ferry channel after removal of Mutinda’s vehicle and body from the sea on Saturday, December 7, Oguna said Mutinda’s mental disorder led him to suicide.
But Mutinda’s partner of tens of years, Ruth Mueni, says the government spokesperson erred in his claim – that the deceased had a mental illness.
Mueni says she had not recorded statement with police to confirm Oguna’s allegation, and no law enforcement agent had access to Mutinda’s medical history confirming that he had a mental disorder.
“The Government spokesperson was quick to claim that my husband committed suicide. What information did he rely on to arrive at that conclusion? While at the Kenya Ferry Services headquarters [on Saturday], he never even said a word to me. Who is the source of his claim that my spouse was mentally disturbed? I urge the State spokesperson to let investigators conduct independent probe to ascertain what exactly led to the incident that killed my husband,” Ruth Mueni told K24 Digital at her Vanga Estate home in Likoni.
Mueni recounted the events that preceded the 4:20am fatal accident. But before she could go deep into her narration, she was overcome by emotions, and asked her 18-year-old son, Brian Mutinda, to sit next to her as she collected herself.
With tears in her eyes, Mueni narrated the events of that fateful Saturday morning.
“On Saturday, a few minutes to 4am, I was woken up by my husband’s strange screams. He was shouting: ‘Siji, siji [I am not coming, I am not coming]!’ I moved closer to him, and realised he was dreaming. I shook him in order to wake him up from the bad dream. He, however, did not wake up immediately. After a few minutes, his screams faded, and he woke up by himself. He, thereafter, told me that — in his dream –, his late father, who died in 2012, had ordered him to go to a well in Kitui Central, where they would meet.
“I asked him to join me in prayers, but he declined, saying his father wanted to see him urgently, and that he couldn’t waste another minute in the house.”
Mueni said she had hidden Mutinda’s car key so as to stop him from leaving the house, but her husband became more aggressive and violent when Mueni continued to hold on to the keys.
“Until that day, my husband had never exhibited traits of violence. Realising that he was getting abnormally angry, I handed over the ignition key to him. All through, I knew the gate was locked, and, therefore, there was nowhere he would go. I was shocked when he reached for a spare key, opened the gate and drove out in haste,” said Mueni.
The mother-of-three refuted speculations that a domestic fight between her and Mutinda forced him to flee home that morning.
“On Tuesday, December 3, my husband arrived at our Vanga Estate home in Likoni after visiting his rural home in Kitui Central. He was happy, as usual. Since then, we were on good terms, and no quarrel marred our relationship.”
Mueni has urged the Kenya Ferry management to erect a barrier a few meters to the ramp to prevent incidents similar to Mutinda’s from happening again.
Mombasa County Commissioner, Gilbert Gitiyo, says an inquiry into Mutinda’s death has begun.
Mutinda is survived by his wife and three sons (an 18-year-old, who sat the 2019 KCSE, and twins aged 5).
Last Saturday, the Kenya Ferry Services said that Mutinda arrived at the channel at 4:20am, and drove past the ticketing booth despite being ordered to stop. The motorist, who was headed to Mombasa Island from Kwale side, proceeded to the ramp, but there was no vessel to drive into, forcing Mutinda, who was speeding — according to the Kenya Ferry Services — to plunge into the Indian Ocean.
A concerted effort by the Kenya Ferry Services and the Kenya Navy, among other agencies, to search for the submerged vehicle began in earnest. Mutinda’s body was removed from the car around 8:40am.
His vehicle, a Toyota Allion of registration plate KAX 474B, was retrieved from the ocean a few minutes past noon, Saturday.
Mutinda’s body was moved to Jocham Hospital morgue, whereas his mangled car was towed to the Likoni Police Station.