Kenya:A month after journalist’s death, his father ’commits suicide’ in strange circumstances

Published by Daily Nation
On 15 October 2016 saa 09:01
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The father of Standard Group’s Kilifi correspondent Joseph Masha has died, just a month after the journalist collapsed and died in his house.

Family members of Mzee Tondo Chiwetse, 72, said the old man committed suicide by hanging himself inside his house at Kolongoni Village in Chasimba, Kilifi County.

In a tragic turn of events, residents said the old man hanged himself after a known witchdoctor in the area implicated him in his son’s death.

According to Mzee Chiwetse’s son John Said, the deceased was found dangling on a rope inside his house after the family mounted a search for him when he went missing.

On Saturday, Mr Saidi said Mzee Tondo was living a dejected life in the village, after "he was found guilty" of practicing witchcraft, by an alleged witch buster seven days ago.

He speculated the weight of the allegations might have led him to taking his own life.


When Masha collapsed and died in his house in Kilifi Town on September 2, some family members suspected that he could have died as a result of a traditional ritual.

Others, including his professional colleagues, suspected foul play.

The ritual, commonly known as Kutoa wa Mvua among the Mijikenda ethnic group, is a practice where a member of the cult sacrifices one of his family member so that rain can come.

Masha’s employer, the Standard Group, insisted on a post-mortem on his body, which was conducted by five doctors led by Chief government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor.

After the autopsy at the Kilifi County Hospital, Dr Oduor announced that the same samples had been sent for further analysis in South Africa on the company’s request.

On Saturday Kilifi County chief of health Timothy Malingi said the results are not yet out.

Soon after his death, rumours started doing the rounds in the village that he had been "bewitched".


That prompted the family to seek the services of a renowned witch buster, commonly referred to as Beba Beba.

Last week, Mzee Chiwetse was among the eight elders in the village who were "busted" was implicated in his son’s death.

“After he was caught by Beba Beba, he came to me, looking very miserable. He said he felt ashamed that the entire Kolongoni Village including even children had branded him a wizard. Looking disturbed, he gave me his bank account details and then went missing," said Mr Saidi.

"He went missing on Thursday and after a search we found him at 2pm inside his house with a rope on his neck,” he added.

Some of the locals claim Mzee Chiwetse could no longer withstand the torment and shame of being called a wizard and the accusation that he killed his own son, Masha.

Kilifi police boss Alexander Makau confirmed the incident and said investigations have been launched.

He asked for calm as police look into the circumstances of the death.

“We shall investigate all the claims being levelled over the death,” said Mr Makau.

An elder who spoke on condition of anonymity said the deceased’s toes had some injuries, which could have been pointed to a struggle and speculation that he may also have been killed by people who wanted it to looked like suicide.


Killing of the elderly on witchcraft allegations has been rampant in Kilifi County, with more than 108 elders killed in the region last year, according to County Commissioner Joseph Keter.

While visiting Kilifi in January this year, Deputy President William Ruto called to end the reckless killing of the elderly in the region.

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Journalists carry the casket bearing the remains of ’Standard’ journalist Joseph Masha during his burial in Kolongoni Village, Kilifi County, on September 10, 2016. The journalist’s father, Mzee Tondo Chiwetse, has died, just a month after the journalist collapsed and died in his house.