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Guardian angel from Hell who dimmed a star too soon :: Kenya

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The mud wall house that the late Juliano Kanyonyo was killed in. [Boniface Gikandi/Standard]

A widow is ruing the day she handed her only son to be mentored into manhood.

Yesterday, as thousands of parents contemplated the secondary schools their children would attend after their KCPE results were released on Monday, Beth Nduta was tearfully reading a postmortem report of 15-year-old son, Juliano Kanyonyo Mbatha.

By all accounts, the quiet Kanyonyo had beaten all odds to distinguish himself as a scholar at Gatitu Primary School, where he was the third-best candidate with 376 marks in this year’s KCPE exams.

Kanyonyo had burnt the midnight oil in the hope that he would qualify to join his dream high schools, Mang’u or Njiiri, in that order.

This was his second attempt at the exam after he scored 292 marks last year. But determined to succeed and fend for his mother, he opted to repeat the class.

With the exams done, the teenager requested his 40-year-old peasant mother, who was single-handedly taking care of him and his six sisters, to finance his initiation into manhood, as custom dictated.

Minor surgery

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According to one of his sister’s, Lucy Njoki, the family’s nightmare started when a 20-year-old man who had been appointed to be Kanyonyo’s mentor, or mutiiri, demanded Sh2,000 although the charge for the minor surgery at a private clinic was Sh1,000.

Villagers said Kanyonyo’s mother instead gave the mentor Sh1,200 and also surrendered a hen and cockerel, as demanded by the man who was now acting as the boy’s guardian angel.

According to villagers, the mentor insisted that the cockerel was too small and not befitting a person of his stature.

“Last Saturday, my mother took the cockerel that had been rejected by the mutiiri to Kagundu-ini market and sold it for Sh800. She then searched for a cock with a talon at the back of the foot, but in vain,” said Njoki.

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Exhausted, the woman returned home in the evening, planning to go round the village the following morning to look for a cockerel to satisfy the whims of her son’s minder.

She left early in the morning after instructing her daughter to ensure she served Kanyonyo, who was recuperating in a separate house from the circumcision, breakfast.

But when she tried to call her brother he did not respond. She did not think much about the matter until her mother returned at around 10am with a cock.

When Nduta peeped through a window she was shocked to see her son lying motionless with foam on the mouth.

Against the dictates of tradition, she and other relatives entered the room. They found that Kanyonyo was dead. They were puzzled because his body had no visible injuries.

The bandages that had been used to cover Kanyonyo’s wound lay scattered on the floor.

A security officer who cannot be quoted because he is not authorised to comment said the postmortem indicated that Kanyonyo had suffered head injuries and a broken hand.

Kanyonyo’s aunt, Julianna Ngami, said: “The autopsy revealed the boy was tortured by the minder and his agemates. They should be investigated and prosecuted.”

Nduta yesterday recorded a statement at Kandara Police Station as Gatitu residents called for the arrest of Kanyonyo’s killers.

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