Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu on Wednesday appeared before the Kitui High Court as a prosecution witness in the murder case of former Township Mayor Martha Mwangangi.
Testifying before Judge Lilian Mutende, Governor Ngilu could not hold back tears as she recalled her last moments with Martha before a county fire engine truck crushed her to death.
On that fateful day on December 16, 2016, Ngilu said she was invited to address the protesters whose kiosks had been demolished by the county government. She said Martha joined her at Kalundu market at around 9 am.
“I joined the peaceful protest and advised the hawkers on how they could seek redress. We concluded the march by 11am and then I proceeded to dialogue with the police over boda boda issues.
“I was with the former mayor when suddenly a county government truck plunged into the demonstrators outside the Kitui police station and crushed her to death. Martha and I were old friends and we had been called to defend the traders’ source of livelihood,” said Ngilu.
The County boss told Justice Mutende that the accused, fire engine driver Philip Isika Tito, knew what he was doing because he could see the crowd from a distance and had all the time to either slow down or use the truck’s siren to alert the people.
“I emerged from Kitui Police Station and I was walking towards my car which was parked outside. I heard people shout and the next thing [was that] I found myself lying on the fence having been thrown there by my bodyguard,” narrated Ngilu.
Adding, “Everyone was scampering for safety and I could hear cries of Martha amekanyagwa (Martha has been crushed). I could not believe my eyes when I saw someone under a moving fire-fighting engine.
“The incident happened in a split second. Martha was beside me as we walked out of the station to our cars. The truck charged on us immediately and I only survived by the grace of God,” Ngilu told the court.
The governor said her bodyguard also had to jump out of the way after throwing Mrs Ngilu to the fence to avoid being hit by the charging truck.
“Martha was not lucky. The truck hit and flung her ahead before crushing her on the head and mid-section. She died instantly as pandemonium ensued at the scene,” Ngilu said, in tears.
After Mrs Mwangangi was killed, the accused fled the scene, said Ngilu.
Describing the former mayor as brave, warm-hearted, generous, a good listener and motherly, Ngilu said in her political career spanning more than 20 years, that Friday was her saddest day as she watched her best friend and key supporter killed mercilessly after a peaceful protest.
Justice Mutende adjourned the hearing to July 31.