Hellen Kwamboka: Slain cop’s family left destitute as they send off sole bread winner

Nearly a fortnight ago, the country woke up to the, now common, shock of a murder involving a police officer in Kenya – this time 27 year-old Hellen Kwamboka had been slain by a man suspected to be her boyfriend.

She had no child, only survived by her mother and two siblings – a brother and a sister. Her father, John Mokua, is deceased.

Her lifeless body had been found in her house, bearing strangulation marks after what seemed to be death by a knife through her head.

On Monday, 3 June 2019, the suspected killer – Erick Onyono Nyakundi was arraigned at Makadara Law Courts after being arrested following a week of cat and mouse chase of him by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Erick Onyono Nyakundi was arraigned at Makadara Law Courts charged with the murder of police constable Hellen Kwamboka. PHOTO/COURTESY

Nyakundi, 30, allegedly a Nairobi-based businessman was arrested in Swarm township near the Kenya-Uganda border on Madaraka Day morning.

As he was being arraigned, Kwamboka’s kin, colleagues and friends were painfully planning for her burial later this week.

The harambee to offset funeral costs was held a day after Nyakundi’s first appearance in court over her murder.

Her body will be taken from Chiromo Mortuary on Thursday for the long journey home, a day before her burial on Friday, 7 June at her late father’s farm in Kitale.

Nyakundi did not take plea as the prosecution sought for more time to conclude investigations, the Court granting them until 10 June.

One wonders what he is feeling like while in custody at Buruburu station, where he is being held. This is a woman he confessed love to, maybe promised to never harm her until death separates them.

Does he regret anything? Nobody knows, only he can tell what is going on in his mind every day since the fateful day of 24 May.

By the time he (Nyakundi) returns to court, Kwamboka’s body will be back to the earth and would have been six feet under for three nights and four days.

Her family would have started living their life without her, their sole breadwinner.

Her mother Elizabeth Moraa will no longer have a daughter to depend on but their life would have been turned nearly five years back. Her siblings Joshua and Lilian are back in the village in Kapomboi, jobless and destitute – a lot whose only pride and hope was their slain sister.

After clearing high school in 2009, Kwamboka, like most youth from humble backgrounds stayed without employment until 2015 when she was lucky to join the national police service.

Hellen Kwamboka, the police constable murdered in her Umoja 2 residence. PHOTO/COURTESY

She, immediately, became the hope of the family, taking full responsibility for how they lived.

“She was our everything. She fed and took care of all of us, including herself, ” her mother says.

Her cousin who works in the police service says: “The mother has been snatched of her bread from the mouth and it has come too soon.

“Only God knows the pain of this family at this point in time.”

“The sister has given birth out of wedlock and the brother has lost hope at home, ” a colleague who knows the family told Kurunzi.

“The story is he was married but it’s like the lady left him and nobody knows where she is or whether they had any children.”

The family had little knowledge about Nyakundi, who her Umoja 2 neighbours say had been around a few times.

The Umoja 2 apartment where Hellen Kwamboka lived and where she is believed to have been murdered by a man thought to be her boyfriend. PHOTO/COURTESY

In fact, a source told Kurunzi that the family knew of a man who she had dated from her college days but who they were no longer together.

“The family had not known about this one. The one they had an idea about is the one from central but clearly he was no longer in her life,” a family member quipped.

To many, police officer Hellen Kwamboka’s death is just another statistic of the brutality by or against the law enforcement agents but to her family, this is the beginning of a long journey of little hope for where their livelihood will come from.

Their cry is for justice to be done for their daughter and sister, a figure whose impact they will never forget for the remainder of their life; one whose death shall remain a symbol of cruelty by a man who feigned love to take advantage of a police officer but took away the life of a loving young woman ahead of whom lied a lot of potential.

Hers is a story of how those viewed in the generality of police officers, often perceived to be lacking a humane side, yet deep down live a different reality – one of a loving daughter and sister who only donned the blue and white uniform as a job and an opportunity to serve.

“Her story confirms that policewomen too are ordinary women with weaknesses as their colleagues and have nothing extraordinary about their security but only do their job,” says a female police officer who leaders anonymity.

“If she was anything different from an ordinary woman, she could have resisted to die in the manner she did by fighting back her boyfriend but she was submissive to death.

“We are misunderstood as police women, mistreated and stigmatised but deep down we are just women who want to be treated and loved as such. May she rest in peace.”

The curtains have fallen on Kwamboka, the fight for justice begins and Nyakundi (the suspected killer) embarks on his defense to prove his innocence.

His confession to the police, reports indicate, suggests he stabbed her with a knife before taking off with her mobile phone, her identification and all other documents.

It is not clear yet whether he has surrendered anything from what he took from her house.

During a fundraising towards her burial expenses, her colleagues from parliament police station said they were mobilizing money to help her start life without Kwamboka but one evident fact is that the gap she has left is too big for anybody to fill in at the moment.

This is the clearest demonstration that police officers lives also matter and they too deserve justice.

Elizabeth Moraa, the mother of slain police constable Hellen Kwamboka. She will be buried at her father’s home in Kitale on Friday, 7 June 2019. PHOTO/COURTESY

One consolation the family must take is that this did not take God by surprise, those were her days in this world and they would meet again when the roll is called up yonder.

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