Monday, November 19, 2012

Is There a Mafia Link to Kasuku's Murder?


 By Onyango Oloo in Nairobi

Malindi is a beautiful town on the Kenyan coast.



Famous for its tourist attractions, Malindi has over recent years gained prominence as a magnet for Italian magnates.


Here is an excerpt from a story featured in  the November 18, 2012 edition of the Nairobi-based Sunday Nation newspaper:

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is thought to be one of the prospective wealthy owners of holiday homes at an exclusive club set to be built in the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi.

Formula One billionaire Flavio Briatore, while announcing his plan to build the club at a cost of Sh500 million last week, said that 24 VIPs had confirmed interest in owning holiday homes.

They consist mostly of wealthy friends of Mr Briatore from Italy and other parts of the world.
Speculation about the Berlusconi connection is fuelled by the fact that the socialite Briatore recently hosted the former Italian prime minister at his Lion in the Sun Resort and Spa in Malindi.

The two billionaire friends spent a week at Lion in the Sun which, for years, used to be Mr Briatore’s holiday home.

Soon after the holiday, Mr Briatore announced his plans for a billionaires club with 24 exclusive apartments whose ownership will be by invitation only.

Artistic impressions of what the club will look like and the disclosures by Mr Briatore that customers seeking to acquire units at the club had to be vetted to ensure that they were people of status suggests it will be one of the most expensive and luxurious resorts in Africa.

“We are not just accepting any client, we are going for the high level upmarket investors. Actually I mainly prefer people I know, friends… you know you cannot get into a private jet with somebody who you do not know or is not your friend,” Mr Briatore said.

Increased demand for high class accommodation for the wealthy prompted the Italian business magnate to change his holiday home into a hotel. Lion in the Sun was voted one of the best clubs in the world for providing guests a healthy holiday under nutrition experts.

One of the attractions at Lion in the Sun is the acclaimed Thala Spa Henri Chenot, which offers a range of body treatments using the principles of ancient Chinese medicine to restore the body’s natural equilibrium. It is said to be one of only six such exclusive centres around the world.

The planned investment is expected to push Malindi’s profile as a tourist resort town up by leaps and bounds.

Mr Briatore said Malindi is a great destination and it deserves high class accommodation for high value tourists.

“Malindi has a good weather, some of the best beaches and, apart from being secure, its people are very friendly to tourists... For that reason there is need to improve the standards and attract upmarket tourists here,” he said.

Another advantage Mr Briatore is exploiting is Malindi’s easy accessibility from Europe and the short distance between the holiday resorts and the Malindi airport.

“Here, one feels completely at home and relaxed, it is the international media in Italy and elsewhere which goes wild on how unsafe it is in Kenya but, after coming to Malindi for more than 20 years, I am convinced this is the place to be with my friends.”

He called on the Italian government to lift the travel advisory to Italians against visiting Kenya.
He said the visit by Mr Berlusconi had been covered by all the major newspapers and magazines in Italy and it was testimony that Kenya and Malindi are safe.

“We have been here for a week and walked on the beach and enjoyed our stay thoroughly. There was no problem at all with security and my guest is happy,” Mr Briatore said.

He said the presence of wealthy people at the Malindi marine park would not affect tourists and Kenyans intending to use the beach since “all over the world there were no private beaches and shorelines are accessible to anybody”.

But that is NOT the story which spurred me to compose this digital piece.

It was another tale, darker;  a gothic narrative tracking a mystifying macabre weekend atrocity; a grim account about a brutal murder of an innocent Kenyan business woman who happens to be a very good friend of ours in one of the well-known Kenyan online communities-Jukwaa.

We knew Ms. Lillian Mwikali Andree simply as


Kasuku-that was the handle, the pseudonym she used as a member of that discussion forum that I founded way back in August 2005.  

Jukwaa has since emerged as one of the most respected sites for sober discussions on all things political, economic, social and cultural with a Kenyan focus.

Although we had been corresponding long distance for  quite some time, it was not until late July this year that we met face to face for the first time in Nairobi.

Kasuku, who had lived in Germany since 1979 had come to Kenya on a personal and business trip but she had also come in the country to follow up directly with me on this request that she had communicated to me privately on June 7, 2012:

Kisumu High Court
« Message sent on Jun 7, 2012, 3:00pm »
Dear Onyango
First of all, please forget about my earlier request. I have researched the information myself.
Thank you.
Secondly, I need your help concerning a criminal judicial issue in Kisumu High court which has to do with a lawyer from the region selling a property of mine in Malindi Fraudulently...
His name is Michael Owuor, who created a case against my property in Malindi in order to get it auctioned. This was in 1997 when he had an office in Malindi. But he went to get the court order in the Kisumu High court.
At the time he got court order, my property, a Villa, stood alone as my Manager had passed away and I was sick in Europe. As he couldn’t get someone to officially auction the property, he found a willing buyer in two guys from Holand who bought it for peanuts.
- Since the property belonged to my deceased husband who passed away a few years before the properties fraudulent selling, after his death there was estate dispute between my 2 step sons which lasted 10 years and so I couldn’t get to apply for a letter of administration before 2007, which I have now, as I was left the villa by my Husband.
But there is the court order in Kisumu we have to lift. My lawyer in Mombasa just informed me that the file can’t be traced and he wants to go there. But I am thinking just how much this will cost me, as have being already conned by a prominent lawyer (between us please) the alleged Human rights lawyer).
I am very desperate to get this matter solved without complicating it worse.
You are from Nyanza province. Could you kindly advise me on what to do when a file can’t be found? As I believe it was made to disappear as soon as it did its purpose of selling my villa fraudulently – if at all there was one at all? Do you know a very good lawyer in Kisumu who  can advise me and do the work there for its cheaper than my Mombasa lawyer flying there as I have no money to throw away.
The file in Kisumu high court:
The civil suit number is 269 of 1997
The court order was issued on the 3th. October 1997
Plaintiff: Michael Owuor
Defendants: Hans Ulrich Schubach, Henri Johann and Norbert Joseph Burke
(My Husband who owned 2 thirds of the property isn’t even being sued there as he was dead maybe?)
Maybe if you can pass this to a Kisumu lawyer you trust won’t go running to Owuor (Who must be an old man now), please do forward him this email and tell me his honorary.
I would be totally thrilled for a little help from Kisumu.
Kind regards
Lilian
We kept communicating on this issue. This is from June 25, 2012:
 Dear Oloo
I was bedridden too and no Internet connection at home. What  pity i missed this mail...I think you will reach more than my lawyer in Mombasa, who has a lawyer connection in Kisumu who seems to be unable to reach anything after not finding the file.

By the way that auctioner guy, Kinyua is none other than the one who teamed up with Owuor to allegedly auction my place. I have his signature from the alleged sale agreement.

This is my mobile number in Germany. Please send me yours and we will communicate that way for now. Am due to fly to Nairobi next week.
Regards
Lilian
 But Kasuku did not travel at that time:

Re: Kisumu High Court
« Message sent on Jul 12, 2012, 12:18pm »   
Dear Onyango

Due to circumstances, my traveling schedule keeps on changing. I am needed here for some time but will probably come before August.

However, kindly email me your feedback for me to look for a way forward.

I appreciate your help

Kind regards

Lilian
This is when she made it to Nairobi:
  L.Andree
Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
To: onyango.oloo@gmail.com

Dear Onyango

 Am arriving in Nairobi on Sunday 22, July. Can we meet on Monday?

 Regards

 Lilian
 We met about three times during her short stint in Kenya in late July to discuss further the assignment she gave me. When she went back we kept communicating via phone and email. I took the initiative of meeting the "prominent human rights lawyer" she had mentioned in her June message.

 As it turned out, the said attorney is a very close pal of mine and we have collaborated on several issues since  the year 2000. He told me that he had actually managed to retrieve the file that Kasuku had been looking for and the hold up was over some payment wrangle between him  and Lillian. On his part  he said that they had agreed on a fee of 700,000 Kenyan shillings and Lillian had only paid  him100,000. While Lillian/Kasuku later told me that the "prominent human rights lawyer" was holding on to the file despite her forking out something in the region of 150,000. I was later a victim of friendly fire from both sides-the lawyer wanted  Lillian to apologize for a series of attacks on him that she had posted on of a certain  Facebook Group featuring Kenyan issues while Lillian insisted that the said lawyer should not blackmail her.

They each threatened to report each other to various authorities. When I offered to be the mediator between the two, Kasuku who we were having dinner with at the South C motel where she had moved to from the original guest house in Parklands, blew her top turning on me for my effrontery of trying to cajole her into negotiating with someone who had wronged her.

Her flare up quickly dissipated as she calmed down. She even left me some very nice clothes to pass on to my wife because she did not want to take them back to Germany.  She was scheduled to fly later that evening so we bid each other goodbye.

Unfortunately, to cut a long story short, I was not able to deliver on my mission to retrieve the file in Kisumu as I explained to Kasuku in this email:
Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 11:06 AM
To: Lilian Andree
Dear Lillian:

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Kisumu was a nightmare. I actually went there twice this last weekend.
On Thursday, August 23, 2012 I was there from Kericho. Since I knew we
were going to Kisumu Hotel for the book launch I arranged with my
contacts to meet me there. One of them showed up and we had agreed
that we would go to a quiet corner to talk after our function. I am
sure you read or saw on YouTube what happened. By the time the cops
were pushing people out of the room he had fled along with the rest of
the attendees. After the fracas, I went to my mother-in-law's funeral
in Kendu Bay the same day. She was being buried the following day.
Immediately after the burial I got a ride back to Kisumu where I had
arranged to meet my second contact and from there travel straight to
Mombasa. This one simply refused to show up or take my calls. After
waiting for an hour and a half at the place where we had agreed to
meet, I got an SMS from him blasting me and telling me that he had not
known that I was such a traitor to the Luos by associating with
Miguna. He asked me never to contact him again. So I left Kisumu for
Mombasa once again empty handed.

What to do now?

The atmosphere and political climate in Kisumu right now will make it
difficult for me to even go there...No need to risk a personal assault.

What I can do-but only with your permission-I can try and persuade
xxxx xxxxx to part with the file. Before I suggest how, I need to get
your feedback because the last time I proposed that, you were
vehemently and adamantly opposed to the idea.

Take Care.

Sincerely,

Onyango Oloo


Kasuku  was in person a very warm, direct and intelligent person who had worked very hard to build several enterprises in Germany and in Kenya. At the time we met she had bought some property in Mtito Andei where she was busy constructing a home where she  hoped to relocate to after all those decades living in Europe.

Although she had earlier told me about a women's conference taking place in Nairobi in October, I was not aware that she was back in the country because she never contacted me this second time around. I only came to learn of her presence in Kenya through this posting on Jukwaa:
On Nov 3, 2012, 5:01pm, kasuku wrote:
The title is really correct. Malindi is being stollen every day by foreigners. Right now am capturing my property from some thieves.
Oh, the other day Raila's property was stollen at Kilifi!
And by the way it isnt only foreigners who are stealing properties here. Kenyans have grabbed too.
Berluskoni knows the safest place to hide in the worl is Malindi. Tomorrow am going to the beach Party and hope to see that kaman face to face to see what makes a man bahve as if he could just walk to God and tell him to vacate his sit.
And then on Sunday, November 14, 2012 as I was watching the seven o'clock news on Citizen TV, I was shocked speechless at a news item which was later to be repeated during the nine o'clock bulletin:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM_576UnfaI&list=UUhBQgieUidXV1CmDxSdRm3g&index=7&feature=plcp

The subsequent articles in the print media confirmed my worst fears:

From the Daily Nation:
BY ROBERT NYAGAH rnyagah@ke.nationmedia.com
The decomposing body of a business woman was yesterday discovered dumped inside a septic pit in a Malindi hotel.
Police have launched investigations into the death of Ms Lillian Mwikali Andree, a Kenyan based in Germany and collected samples of blood and other items from the scene.
The security agents and Malindi fire brigade officers took about four hours to remove the body from the septic pit — used for waste water at the Malindi Sail Fish Club — after breaking through its concrete cover.
The police found blood stained clothes at the scene while the decomposing body was tied with pieces of torn bed covers on the legs, hands and the mouth.
There was a trail of blood from the room she had occupied right into the top section of the septic pit where her body was recovered.
Neighbours said on Sunday they heard strange noises but did not attempt to check what was happening especially because noisy parties are sometimes held at the club.
The woman is said to have gone missing from Sunday amid claims from her lawyer that she had expressed fears about her safety at the club.
“When she complained about threats to her life, I cautioned her against staying at the club, whose ownership she was fighting over,” the lawyer, Mr Morris Kilonzo said.
Detectives arrested an investor who operates the club and five Kenyans who work there.
According to the lawyer, the woman arrived recently from Germany and had sought help to regain ownership of the club. Mr Kilonzo said Ms Mwikali established the club with her husband in 1981 and managed it together until he died in 1995. She was then forced to go Germany and legally pursue her husband’s property.
Irregular transfer
However, according to the lawyer, a German tenant was left behind to manage the club and it was then that an irregular transfer was allegedly made on the Malindi Sail Fish Club.
“When she returned from Germany and attempted to access the club, tenants restrained her and even claimed they had documents to prove they owned it,” said the lawyer.
The lawyer said his client also owns tourism, travel and deep sea fishing establishments in Germany where she lives with her two daughters.
The lawyer said that when a clerk from his firm visited the club in an attempt to talk to the woman and know her whereabouts, he was denied access to the establishment.
The lawyer explained that he was shocked when the police called him yesterday to inform him of his client’s death.
“We were supposed to be in court today (yesterday) and it is shocking that Ms Mwikali is no more She was just pursuing her property which she was legally entitled to,” said Mr Kilonzo.
For the Star story, click on this link .

There was this follow up in the Daily Nation of November 19, 2012 with picture (on the online edition) of hotel owner being arrested.

As for me, I  sought my friend, the "prominent human rights lawyer".

We met at a certain hotel in the vicinity of the State House here in Nairobi on Friday, the 16th of November.  We there for hours. Later, perhaps by happenstance, a senior NSIS officer, whose brother just happened to be a close associate of the late Lillian joined us.

Both individuals gave me valuable information. The lawyer said he had in his possession a photo copy of the long sought file which he was willing to hand over to the authorities and Kasuku's lawyer.

The NSIS guy and his brother (who later also showed up) told me that they had both known Kasuku for several years.

They revealed that the lawyer that Lillian had been seeking, Michael Owuor, had actually DIED sometime in November 2011.

The NSIS officer told me that he had hooked up Kasuku with his counterpart in Kisauni, Mombasa who had in turn linked her with the DCIO in Malindi, a Mr. John Ndung'u. They had all advised Kasuku to pursue her matter through the police.

However, Lillian being a headstrong and independent woman had opted to grab the proverbial bull by the horns, going directly to the Sailfish Club (which was actually her former villa that had been grabbed from her years ago) and through one of the friendly members of staff managed to access the wife of the Sailfish owner, Mr. Emilicus Vandewerf (also known as Emiel Van Der Werf) . Since she happens to be a Kenyan from the Luo community a rapport quickly developed between Kasuku and Mrs. Vandewerf (Van Der Werf?). Kasuku was able to share documents which proved that she was the real owner of the property.

According to my NSIS contact and his brother, Kasuku soon met the Dutch owner of the Sailfish Club. They soon struck a deal: Mr. Emilicus Vandewerf told Kasuku that clients had booked the Sailfish Club for upto six months and therefore would need some lead time before they could transition to the next stage  where they could jointly run the club or work out some other amicable arrangement.

When Kasuku reported back to the DCIO, her lawyer and other police connected authorities these development, they still cautioned her to let her lawyer and the police to handle the matter. But Kasuku who was now very optimistic  waved the caution away since she was convinced that the hotel owner was expressing goodwill.

Then according to my sources, she did the unthinkable:

She went and  BOOKED HERSELF INTO THE SAILFISH CLUB!

And that is AFTER she had expressed some concerns to her lawyer about death threats  she had been  receiving over the last few days. Her lawyer had advised against staying on the precincts of the contested property.

How was Kasuku killed?

Well according to my sources (corroborated further after a telephone conversation with Mr. Ndung'u who was part of the team investigating her death)  her killers broke into her room, seized Kasuku, bound her hands and her feet, gagged her before hitting her on the back of the neck with a rungu and throwing her in  the septic tank, confident that her body would be flushed away with the waste.

This account differs somewhat with what was carried in the Daily Nation. A close family member revealed to me later  that information they received after being present at the postmortem showed that Lillian suffered a lot before she died. Apparently one of her arms was broken;  she was stabbed in the neck before being strangled; Her body was stuffed in a plastic bag after her limbs were bound. It took the pathologist forty minutes to unwrap her body before he started examining her. 

But that did not happen.

Her body was stuck in the septic tank and the stench of her remains is what first raised the alarm.

Arrest: Malindi based Dutch businessman and owner of the Sail Fish Club Malindi Mr. Emilicus Vandewerf  (also called elsewhere Emiel Van Der Werf ) where the badly decomposed body of Lillian Mwikali Andree was found dumped in a septic tank at the club is arrested by the police at the scene.  Other suspects, among them workers at the hotel, are Mr Said Abdalla, Mr David Kadenge Ngala, Mr Mwinyi Kombo Said, Mr Bakari Mukala Nzila and Mr Samson Bahati.
Photo/ROBERT NYAGAH/Nation Media Group.

The killing of Lillian Mwikali Andree aka Kasuku must be seen within the wider context of the presence of members of the dreaded  Italian Mafia in the resort town of Malindi. For instance, here is a piece done by a courageous journalist from the Standard Group.

 A few days after filing that report. Paul Gitau complained of the threats to his life as can be seen in this article carried by the social media blog, Kenyan Post.

And these concerns are echoed in this site.

It is not only the media which was concerned about the situation in Malindi. Here is a leaked cable from the US Embassy in Nairobi which was posted on WikiLeaks.

I am fully aware of the serious risk to my own safety in taking the plunge to write this story with a view of helping to bring the killers of Kasuku to book so that they (whoever they are) can be held accountable in a court of law in Kenya. I have volunteered information to the DCIO of Malindi, Mr. Ndung'u. He has given me his PERSONAL ASSURANCE that he will see to it that the five or so people they arrested, including the Sailfish owner, Mr. Emilicus Vandewerf  help the police with their investigations into the murder of Kasuku.

Is it possible that the information I shared with the authorities can get into the hands of the criminals who snuffed out Kasuku's life so brutally?

Anything can happen.

Am I worried?

Not really.

Still, I have taken the trouble to write to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Iteere and other senior people in law enforcement asking for concrete steps to be taken to ensure justice is seen to be done for our popular Jukwaa colleague. I have copied that letter to the German Ambassador in Nairobi, the Head of the EU Mission to Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the  new state connected human rights watchdog, representatives of Kenyans in the Diaspora and around the world. However since I am yet to deliver that letter, I do not think it would be professional to splash it on the World Wide Web  just now.

Let me end here  by saying:

Rest in Peace and Hamba Kahle to you Mkenya Mwenzetu Ms. Lillian Mwikali Andree fondly known to us as Kasuku.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya



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