Woman accused of killing German lover almost made a big mistake in court over her inability to understand English

By Charo Banda On Tue, 25 Feb, 2020 19:35 | 4 mins read
Mary Mwikali (in sleeveless top), who was arraigned at the Malindi High Court, admitted to killing her lover on January 28 in Malindi, shocking court attendees. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]
Mary Mwikali (in sleeveless top), who was arraigned at the Malindi High Court, admitted to killing her lover on January 28 in Malindi, shocking court attendees. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]

Mary Mwikali Kavuu, the main suspect in the murder of German national, Detering Herman, 78, on Tuesday almost made a big blunder after she — temporarily — pleaded guilty to killing her lover.

Mwikali, who was arraigned at the Malindi High Court, admitted to killing her lover on January 28 in Malindi, shocking court attendees.

However, High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi, sensed that Mwikali had not understood the charge, which had been read to her in English language.


Mwikali had, initially, suggested that she killed Herman while defending herself after he attacked her.

“I saved myself from death, self and defense (sic). It is true [I killed Herman],” she said.

On sensing that that a plea of guilty was going to be entered by the judge, the suspect’s lawyer, Enrica Ruto, who was also shocked, leaned over to the dock and informed Mwikali that she had, actually, admitted to killing Herman.

In Kenya, a person who is convicted of murder faces death by hanging.

A perplexed Mwikali immediately said she did not mean to plead guilty to the charge, and that she had “limited understanding of English language”.

Justice Reuben Nyakundi decided to reread the charge to Mwikali, this time around in Swahili language, and not English. Mwikali pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The judge set March 24, 2020 as the date for trial. Meanwhile, the suspect remains remanded at Mtangani Maximum Prison.

Plea-taking date postponed

Last Thursday (February 20), Mwikali’s plea-taking was postponed after the court learnt that she hadn’t undergone mental assessment.

Mwikali, 32, appeared before the Malindi High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi.

The State prosecutor, Barbara Sombo, applied to have Mwikali subjected to mental examination to ascertain her fitness to stand trial.

Sombo told the court that Mombasa has only one doctor who conducts mental tests, and is only available on Mondays. The State prosecutor, therefore, requested the court to have the suspect arraigned on Tuesday, February 25.

“We pray that the accused be remanded at the Mtangani Maximum Prison as she waits for the mental assessment scheduled for Monday, February 24. We, therefore, request the court to set aside Tuesday, February 25, as the date she will take plea,” said Sombo.

The Prosecution said Mwikali was going to be charged with murder.

The State appointed Enrica Ruto to represent the suspect.


On January 30 this year, DCI detectives arrested Mwikali in connection with the brutal murder of a 78-year-old German man, who was alleged to be her partner.

Mwikali, who is accused of killing Detering Herman in a hotel in Malindi, Kilifi County on January 28, was, on January 30, arrested at a nightclub in Diani, Kwale County.

“Forensic analysis which placed the suspect at the scene of crime led the detectives handling the case to her hideout in Diani, triggering her arrest. Further investigations [are] ongoing to establish the motive behind the appalling killing. The suspect will be arraigned once necessary police procedure is complete,” said the DCI on Twitter on January 30.

The team that investigated Herman’s brutal murder comprised officers from the Government Chemist, Forensic Unit and a representative of the German Embassy in Nairobi.


Murdered German tourist, Detering Herman, was a fun-loving and light-hearted man, who spent most of his times drinking beer and chewing miraa on the poolside at Moriema Cottages in Malindi, the hotel’s manager, Kelly Kazungu, told K24 Digital on January 29.

Herman was on January 28 found dead in his hotel room — number 177 — with deep cuts inflicted in his head, neck and back.

The 78-year-old tourist booked the hotel room on December 4, 2019, and said he would occupy the facility for the next two months, Kazungu told K24 Digital.

And, on the day when he checked into Moriema Cottages, a youthful woman of Kamba descent, joined him. The woman, who is the prime suspect in Herman’s murder, was later identified as Mary Mwikali Kavuu.


“From the first day Herman arrived at our hotel, he and Mary have been inseparable. They often took alcohol and chewed miraa together. They mostly spent their time at the cottage,” said Kazungu, adding:

“Never had I seen them engage in a spat publicly.”

The manager’s revelations were echoed by Alphonce Kazungu, a swimming pool attendant at Moriema Cottages.

“They hardly quarreled,” said Alphonce.

“I am shocked to learn that Mary is the chief suspect in Herman’s murder,” he added.

According to the swimming pool attendant, Mary and Herman left the swimming pool side at 1am on January 28 after spending a better part of the night taking alcohol and chewing khat.

“It remains unclear why she killed him. However, I have had conversations with many women who provide company and sexual services to foreign male tourists. Most of these ladies often complain that after spending several months with male tourists in their hotel rooms, they are often dumped and left with no single penny. Many of these women are angry and any slight provocation could lead them to do the unimaginable,” said Alphonce.

The hotel’s manager, Kelly Kazungu, said one of their cleaners had gone to Herman’s room and knocked at 10am on January 28, but he did not receive any response. The door was also locked.

The cleaner, thereafter, went and informed Kazungu, who walked to Herman’s room and peeped through the window. Kazungu said he saw blood stains on Herman’s bed.

“Immediately, I rushed to Malindi Police Station, where I informed the authorities of what I had seen. The officers accompanied me to the scene, where I used a spare key to open the door. We were shocked to find Herman’s body lying in a pool of blood on the floor,” said Kazungu.

Murder most foul

Herman had deep cuts in the head, neck and back said to be inflicted with a kitchen knife.

“This is murder most foul,” a DCI detective handling the matter told K24 Digital on January 29.

“It appears Herman was too drunk, or was drugged before being butchered by his aggressor,” added the sleuth, who spoke to us in confidence.

The hotel manager said Mary was nowhere to be seen, and, according to him, Mary locked the door and disappeared with Herman’s key after committing the crime.

Authorities suspect Mary stabbed Herman after getting into a fight with him.

Moriema Cottages security guard, who was on duty on the night of January 27 through the morning of January 28, said he never heard any commotions emanating from Herman’s room.

“I never saw the suspect, Mary, leaving Herman’s room,” said the security guard.

Herman’s body was on January 28 taken to Malindi Sub-County Hospital morgue.

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