Quickmart Heist: Court Told How Detectives Tracked Wells Fargo Suspects

November 15, 2023
The suspects; Ismael Patrick Gitonga, Michael Matolo Njeru, Samuel Onyango Haya, Martin Nderi Ng’ang’a, and James Mbatia Kariuki

The State Prosecution filed an affidavit at the Milimani law courts seeking to detain five suspects allegedly involved in the Sh94.9 million Qickmart Heist pending investigations

Inspector Michael Kimilu told the court he was investigating a criminal offense of conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 393 of the penal code.

Kimilu said a report by complainant George Jaramba on behalf of Wells Fargo Limited was reported to vide Akila police station OB No 22/06/11/2023.

The investigation revealed that an amount totaling Sh94 million, belonging to Quickmart Supermarket and en route to a local bank, was stolen by known employees of Wells Fargo.

According to Kimilu, the suspects carried out the offense in coordination with unidentified accomplices shortly after the cash-in-transit vehicle had left Fargo House in South C at around 07:14 hrs.

“Upon receipt of the incident report, investigation team proceeded to the crime scene along Southern bypass in South C area where a motor vehicle was found abandoned with its engine running,” the affidavit reads in part.

The court was informed that the crime scene underwent processing, and it was established that the consignment of cash, stored in three blue metallic boxes, was missing.

The Wells Fargo crew commander, Daniel Mugetha, and the driver, Antony Ndiuki, were reported missing, and their mobile phone numbers were found to be switched off.

“Analysis was conducted and a motor vehicle Fielder white in color was spotted trailing the said Wells Fargo van and later made away with the consignment in 3 blue boxes,” the investigator said.

Inspector Kimilu mentioned that the investigation team initiated both day and night search operations, resulting in the arrest of a man, Ismael Patrick Gitonga, who was identified as the owner of the vehicle in Ongata Rongai on November 10, 2023.

Subsequent investigations traced the aforementioned motor vehicle(KBM 751W) to the Njiru Chokaa area along Kangundo Road, where it was found undergoing modifications. Two suspects who were in the process of modifying it were arrested; these are Michael Matolo Njeru and Samuel Onyango.

The officer reported that the investigation heightened following the interrogation of the two suspects, ultimately leading to the tracing and arrest of Martin Nderi Nganga on November 11, 2023.

During a search at the man’s rented premises in Kasarani, authorities recovered Sh9,101,300. Following leads obtained from Patrick Gitonga, a separate operation on November 12, 2023, led to the arrest of the fifth suspect, James Mbatia Kariuki, an employee of Wells Fargo Limited.

“The investigation is determined to trace, apprehend, and recover the cash of about Sh85 million still at large with the runaway suspects well known to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th respondents,” the officer assured the court.

While seeking more time to detain the five suspects, Inspector Kimilu said their release on bail at this stage of the investigation would jeopardize the case.

He also noted that the suspects are a flight risk having been on the run since November 6 before their arrests.

Kimilu emphasized that the respondents had stolen a significant amount of money, a considerable portion of which remains accessible to them. He said there is concern that they might use these funds to flee the country.

The court also heard that intelligence gathered by investigators suggests that there were plans for the suspects to leave the country shortly before their arrest.

The investigator further noted that tracing the suspects presented considerable challenges, as they were actively hiding and aware of the ongoing pursuit by the investigation team.

State prosecutor Abel Omariba requested the court to grant 21 days, explaining that the mobile phones recovered from the suspects had not yet been sent to the cybercrime unit for analysis.

“Owing to the short time that the investigation apprehended the respondents, their known and related residences are yet to be searched for any further recovery of the remaining amount,” the State added.

The suspects, however, opposed the detention, asserting their innocence at this stage. They pleaded to be released on bail while the investigations were ongoing.

Their lawyers also mentioned that the suspects had been tortured, with Mr Mbatia unable to walk.

Milimani Principal Magistrate Zainab Abdul granted the police 10 days, stating that the application to detain the five was justified, especially considering the substantial amount of money that was stolen.

The suspects have been remanded at Capitol Hill Police Station.

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