Mr Kiswili, a key witness, died in a road accident near Kithyoko on the Thika-Garissa highway in 2018. Kimilu Isika, the owner of the ox-cart, had died in 2016.
Stellamaris’ stepmother, Nzula Kimatu, another witness in the case, died in 2009.
A seven-year-old child who saw the body in the pit latrine and ran crying to inform Ms Kimatu, later disappeared but resurfaced after several years.
On the sunny mid-morning of December 10, 2003, elders from the Amutei clan of the Akamba community converged at the home of Stephen Nthuku Kimatu in Ndelekeni Village, Masinga Constituency, on an unusual mission. It was a visit that would result in protracted court cases, deaths and a body that has remained in the mortuary for 15 years.
On the fateful day, the elders had gone to reinstate their clansman, Nthuku, to his home as the husband of Stellamaris Nthuku, who had invited a stranger to their home and was living with him as her husband.
Nthuku, who lived Mombasa, where he eked out a living doing casual jobs, arrived in the village at 11pm to find his wife in the arms of another man, Mutunga Kyongo. Dejected and seeing that he could not eject the heavily-built man from his house on his own, Nthuku was forced to seek accommodation at his elder brother’s house. His family advised him to report the matter to the Amutei clan elders. That is what led to the elders’ visit that morning.
Unknown to them, though, Stellamaris had hatched a plan to thwart the reconciliation efforts. She surprised all present by declaring to the elders that Mr Kyongo was her new husband and would only leave the house over her dead body. But this was only the beginning of the drama, as she took off all her clothes and embarked on an act of casting a Kamba customary spell, kithitu, on everyone present and especially the Amutei elders. Standing in front of the elders, she smashed a pot on the ground, then took her undergarment, immersed it in a basin full of water and ran around naked splashing water on everyone present. The clansmen ran for their lives.
This incident forms part of the testimony given by Nthuku in an affidavit he swore while filing for divorce. But before this could proceed, he was allegedly killed, giving rise to a murder case and mystery of a body that cannot be buried. Some 15 years on, remains thought to belong to Nthuku are still lying at the City Mortuary in Nairobi, in a twist of events that have turned out to be stranger than fiction.
According to the testimony of Nthuku’s sister, Mbisu King’ele, eight witnesses recorded statements with the police, detailing how Stellamaris lured Nthuku into their house where he found her boyfriend, Mr Kyongo, and his brother waiting. They allegedly hacked him to death, hid his body in a pit latrine and later at night transported it to B2 Yatta forest in a hired ox cart.
“The owner of the ox-cart was not paid and, after a week, led the family to where he had been paid to dump the body, which we found half-decomposed but still identifiable,” said Mbisu in her statement.
But the discovery of the body would open another chapter of intrigue in court: the death of key witnesses and a DNA test that would not yield results.
Nthuku’s body was taken to Matuu Median Hospital mortuary after being positively identified by Ms Mbisu and Kiswili Musau, her brother-in-law, but was later moved to the City Mortuary, where it has been lying for the past 15 years as Stellamaris contested the identity of the body, prompting a DNA test. Mr Kiswili, a key witness, died in a road accident near Kithyoko on the Thika-Garissa highway in 2018. Kimilu Isika, the owner of the ox-cart, had died in 2016.
Stellamaris’ stepmother, Nzula Kimatu, another witness in the case, died in 2009. A seven-year-old child who saw the body in the pit latrine and ran crying to inform Ms Kimatu, later disappeared but resurfaced after several years. She said she had been taken to school in her grandmother’s village and refused to say anything more about it.