Roco Apartment in Shanzu, Mombasa where a Dutch National Herman Rouwenhorst was brutally murdered
On June 6, police in Bamburi, Mombasa, responded to a distress call from Riziki Cherono Ali, finding her with her hands tightly strapped onto the steering wheel of her car.
She told the police that she was driven in the car by unidentified men from her apartment building at Roco, Shanzu, and left near Serena Beach Hotel.
When the police escorted her home, they found her husband Herman Rouwenhorst, a Dutch businessman, dead on the couple’s bed, with his hands and legs tied up with ropes and his mouth gagged.
The night guard, Evans Bambo Bokolo, was found bleeding and unconscious. He later died.
Her statement was recorded at Bamburi Police Station under OB 6/4/6/2021.
Now after weeks of investigations by homicide detectives, police believe that Ms Cherono masterminded the killing of her husband of 13 years.
Victim or mastermind?
Detectives have found leads connecting the woman to the heinous killings. She was picked up from her home on Thursday by detectives for further interrogation.
Sources privy to the investigation have revealed that two witnesses helped detectives link the woman to the killing.
Court documents place Ms Cherono at the scene of the crime, their bedroom, where the Dutchman was murdered.
The officer investigating the matter, Mr Reuben Mwaniki, has said the woman is believed to have played a key role in the killings of her husband and Bokolo.
“There is no evidence of violence on the security setting of the compound. The deceased was killed in his master bedroom, which he shared with Ms Cherono,” he said.
What has baffled detectives is the finding that there were no signs of a break-in at the couple’s Roco apartment. Other than the murdered watchman, police found nothing to suggest violent entry into the apartment.
Further, investigations have revealed that Ms Cherono threatened the two witnesses following the incident. They are among other witnesses that prosecutors will line up to testify against the woman.
Conspiracy to conceal evidence
In court documents seeking to have the woman detained for further questioning, police paint the picture of a well-calculated murder and a conspiracy to conceal evidence.
Detectives have also revealed that after the gruesome murders of the two men, Ms Cherono proceeded to threaten neighbours, who have since moved from the apartment building.
“Some potential witnesses living in the apartments are reported to have been threatened by the respondent, and therefore, have moved them out of the facility and have switched off their known telephone numbers,” Mr Mwaniki said.
Police have also said that as they investigate the killings, they intend to escort the woman to the government chemist so that samples can be extracted for comparison with evidence found at the scene.
“The respondent requires to undergo the normal police procedures such as statement recording, fingerprinting and a mental assessment,” he said.
Mr Mwaniki has also indicated that detectives are pursuing several theories, and they require more time to interview witnesses, who are scattered in Mombasa, Kilifi and Nairobi counties.
“Due to the above set grounds, I pray that the court grants us 14 days to enable us to complete investigations,” he said.
The woman was arraigned for murder before Senior Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo at a Shanzu court on Thursday.
While allowing her detention, the magistrate noted that it was necessary for the police to be allowed to finalise their investigations.
The magistrate has described the situation as one that requires the court to balance justice with emotions.
“Two lives have been lost. Too bad. One of the deceased is a spouse of the respondent herein. It is only her who knows what is going on in her mind as to get herself out of the double tragedy, that of being a widow and a murder suspect,” said the magistrate.
The magistrate observed that even in an event like this one of a double tragedy, the truth must be allowed to come out even if it means allowing for the detention of the bereaved.
“The dead have nobody to speak for them apart from the living. Both sides present and represented here would want to know what happened. The deceased have gone and they cannot address us. Ms Cherono, who it is said was present, has been picked up as someone with a story to tell for the truth to be unraveled,” he said.
“But she can only give us a story while in a certain environment where the story will be undiluted. Given the amount of work to be undertaken in terms of investigations as revealed in the affidavit, I think 10 days would be sufficient to hold the respondent.”
The woman had opposed her detention, saying there is no evidence linking her to the murder as she is also a victim.
Through her lawyer, only identified as Ms Okumu, the woman said police have tabled no evidence to prove she threatened the witnesses.
“The respondent is a widow recently bereaved. She has two children and is a guardian to two others related to the deceased husband. She is the only one who can take care of them,” Ms Okumu said.
She told the court that the witnesses can be placed under the witness protection agency even as the police continue investigating her, if there is evidence she will interfere with them.
“There is no evidence provided to prove that she can interfere with witnesses and that she will not cooperate with the police while not in custody,” she said.
The prosecution agreed that she is bereaved but maintained that it was unfortunate that preliminary investigations have placed her at the scene of the murder of her husband.
Ms Cherono will stay at the Port police station for 10 days as the police finalise investigations. – nation.co.ke