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Kenyan houseboy kills employer in horror attack

- Cyrus Ombati

(Saturday, October 23, 2004)

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"I told her that I could not leave the compound before she paid me my money. Where could I go without a single cent?"

A woman’s bid to evict her houseboy from her house in Nairobi yesterday ended tragically after he killed her using a fork jembe. Grace Irungu, 50, lay in a pool of blood, her skull cracked by the fatal blow. An attempt had also been made to slit her neck using a kitchen knife. The blood she lost was caked on the floor of the servant’s quarter she had wanted the 22-year-old houseboy to vacate for good. Her shoes, handbag, car keys and a padlock she intended to use to lock up the room lay beside her body in the family house at city suburb of Donholm. Were it not for the bludgeoning, an hour later she would have been at work at the family’s detergent manufacturing plant along Thika Road. She had already locked the main house and her four-wheel drive car was parked a few metres away, ready for the trip.

Her only ‘crime’ was a claim that she declined to pay Mark Kyalo Ndunda, now in police custody, Sh3,000 in salary arrears. The road to death began when the houseboy went for the woman’s handbag with the hope that inside he could find the money equivalent to what he allege she "owed" her. Grace’s husband Simon Irungu was dumbfounded. He was recalled from work only to find the lifeless body of the wife he had bid farewell in the morning lying on the floor of the servant quarters.

Grace’s death is bound to send shock waves through Kenyan living rooms. The death rekindles memories of the poisoned meal a maid served a family with in Ngara, Nairobi, last month. Four members of the family were saved from instant death through the quick intervention of doctors. The Donholm couple’s two children live abroad. Neighbours grappled with shock and anger over the macabre killing. They watched in awe and horror as the police wrapped her body in a green blanket – taken off Ndunda’s bed – and loaded it on a truck to take it to the mortuary. The family’s pain could be discerned from a weeping father, lost for words. Matters were compounded by the fact that their last-born child was writing his Form Four exams at a city school, oblivious of the tragedy at home.

The houseboy claimed he was defending himself against an attack by the woman. Grace allegedly went to his room shortly before 9am and informed him that his job had been terminated and demanded that he should leave immediately. "I told her that I could not leave the compound before she paid me my money. Where could I go without a single cent?" He said his employer insisted that he must leave before she could close the room and later the main gate to the compound.

The houseboy said he sat on his bed as he insisted that he could not go anywhere because he did not have any money. "She then held me and tried to force me out, but I fought back by throwing her to the floor," claimed Ndunda. The couple has three children, two of who are out of the country for further studies. The last-born is the one sitting for his KCSE.

A shocked Irungu pondered: "What will happen to him now because he must know? Just look for a way of handling this," he told friends. Irungu said he did not know his wife had a problem with Ndunda as he arrives home late and leaves early. He also said he did not know if Ndunda was supposed to leave.

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