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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Getting Away With Murder : Cholmondeley Style

Also published recently in Kumekucha: Chris is back

Thomas Cholmondeley, 38 year old divorced father of two, is escorted in the high court by
police during his murder trial in Nairobi, September 16, 2008.


The trial of Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley for the May 2006 murder of Gilgil stone mason Robert Njoya at the expansive Soysambu ranch in Naivasha is now approaching its end and a verdict is expected by the end of October.

Ranch owner Tom Cholmondeley allegedly shot ‘poacher’ Njoya in the buttocks as he was running away and the rifle shot reportedly caused a massive pelvic wound that resulted to the death of Njoya.

The unenviable task of passing the verdict will fall on the shoulders of 53 year old Honourable Mister Justice Muga Apondi. I have no reason to doubt the abilities of Justice Apondi – who is no stranger to controversial and sensitive judgements, the recent having been ordering a freeze on the bank accounts of runaway Rwandese fugitive Felicien Kabuga – but as a Kenyan, this case arouses my interest just as it would any stuggling-to-survive black landless man.

Granted, the judgement will also be viewed as an acid test to the ability of the Kenyan judiciary to enforce the law equally and fairly, especially when it involves the mighty and powerful of this country.

Tom Cholmondeley is the great grandson of the 3rd Baron Delamere who was among leading British colonial farmers who settled and established large farms across Kenya's white highlands. The Delamere farm is one of the largest and well organised mixed farms and wildlife sanctuary in the Rift Valley province. Tom will become the 6th Baron Delamere upon the demise of his father.

Going by the final submissions of defence lawyer Fred Ojiambo, it appears Tom Cholmondleley is seeking acquittal on the basis of the prosecution’s failure to directly link him with the bullet that killed Njoya. This is probably in line with Tom’s own testimony last July in which he expressly denied ever having deliberately shot Njoya and implying that that the fatal shot was most probably fired by his friend, Carl “Flash” Tundo with whom he had been strolling at a remote corner of the farm where Tundo, a local rally driver, wanted to lease land and build a house when they stumbled on a group of poachers who set their dogs on them. In keeping with Kenya Wildlife Service regulations, Tom took aim at the dogs with a Winchester .303 hunting rifle, killing two. He then claimed that Mr Tundo most probably fired the fatal shot with his pistol. Tundo was initially arrested by police together with Tom but was released a few days later after recording statements. It is unclear what forensic investigation reports were filed in the court.

In subsequent police statements, Tom allegedly confessed to having shot at some poachers on his expansive 55 acre ranch that stretches from Naivasha to Gilgil town. Not surprisingly, in their submissions on Tuesday, lead defence lawyer Ojiambo dismissed these confessions as inadmissible in a court of law. Ojiambo added that there was no eye-witness account of the shooting and also no one actually saw the deceased being shot by anyone.

Meanwhile the prosecution was today expected to prove that Tom deliberately shot at Njoya with an intention to kill and that contrary to assertions that Njoya was a poacher, no civilian is required to apply to Kenya Wildlife Service, let alone the Soysambu Ranch management, for permits to hunt the more than 10,000 different species of small game that roam the ranch. In any case, prosecution emphatically adds, the wild animals are lawful properties of the state, under the care and supervision of KWS, and not Tom Cholmondeley!

Predictably, drums of war can be heard and emotions are already escalating in the Naivasha area in anticipation of a verdict in favour of Tom, who incidentally was also in 2005 acquitted for lack of evidence in yet another murder trial of KWS warden Samson Ole Sisina. Both killings sparked outrage countrywide, with Naivasha residents holding demonstrations around the farm forcing police to deploy 24 hour patrols. One politician called for Tom to be lynched at sight! His acquittal forced police to physically restrain hundreds of war-cry chanting Masaai morans from invading the Delamere estate.

The highly controversial Sisina acquittal had its own high profile casualties. Philip Murgor, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, was immediately sacked by President Kibaki for acting unprofessionally after he dropped Tom’s murder charge, but even then, the accused was never brought back to stand trial until he allegedly killed another man hardly one year later. Although he confessed shooting Ole Sisina, he pleaded self defence claiming he thought he was confronting armed robbers.

The murder of Robert Njoya aside, the Delamere Estate, also known as the Soysambu Ranch, is the envy of many politicians with interests in venturing or expanding into lucrative flower farming and general horticulture, while on the other hand, a rapidly growing population has led to scarcity of land and inevitably bred resentment among poor landless Kenyans who are having to live as squatters in their own country.

Without wanting to be seen to be taking sides or being accused of contempt of court, me thinks this is one of those ‘open and shut’ cases which fortunately or unfortunately has dragged on and on because we all have to respect the rule of law.

Kazi kwako Justice Apondi.

21 comments:

Vikii said...

Shooting someone in the buttocks is not good.

Anonymous said...

Vikii, dahhhhh, very insightful!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kenya has three legal systems:

1. For white people - all existent and non-existent (foreign) procedures are followed - just like the judge/prosecutor/lawyer saw in the movies. AG has interest in the case!

2. Politically connected - as long a spolitical clout is there, the case will be dragged in court long enough for Kenyans to forget. alternatively the AG will slam a Nulle prosequi in our face.

If all else fails, you just call for mass action to protect your TRIBE for victimisation.

3. The rich - cases are dragged in court until the unlucky person is bankrupt. The rich try to get into bracket 2 by funding politicians... just in case.

4. The ordinary citizens and the poor. even for a simple traffic offence, you shall:
- Stay in remand until you plead guilty.
- you have absolutely no rights,
- you get no lawyer,
- you are GUILTY until you prove you are innocent.
- charges can be added or removed at prosecutor's will.
- even if the law has been amended, the oldest, most punitive and most archaic and most out of date section shall be used against you.
- you will be taken to the most illiterate and most corrupt magistrate there is. etc. etc.

Something is wrong with our justice system. Kenyans - it's time to say ENOUGH!

Anonymous said...

The 4th one is not a "system" - its an artrocity - hence 3 legal systems.

Anonymous said...

So now all of a sudden a nondescprit stone mason called Njoya matters when we are almost to know who caused 1200 + kenyans to lose their lives.Pls stop sidetracking us let us deal with the hot issue of the moment -Judge Kriegler,am even raising my hand in the air,we want Kriegler,we want Kriegler!!

Kwale said...

You mean this case has not moved forward? Tom was 38 years old when he was arrested in 2006 and he is still 38 years old in 2008??

Do you know there has never been any solved murder case involving white settlers in Kenya? Could this be another growing trend?

Anyone knows about the infamous unsolved murder case of Lord Erroll, in notorious 'Happy valley' in 1941 later dramatised in1987 film "White Mischief"? Or the most recent one of Toni Trzebinski another prominent white Kenyan aristocrat in 2001 that happened in Karen, Nairobi only a mile from 1941 murder scene?
Although the two murder cases were categorised as crime of passion, the trigger was almost certainly pulled by white Kenyans. All these cases are well covered and reported by the media in the west especially UK. They have already given a intensive coverage on Tom murder case and am sure they have been wondering the same thing like me, could this spell an end to Happy Valley set?

Tom, sadly is a decadent of racist toff and his views on black people are still the same as his ancestors. One murder could have been pardonable, but two, is totally inexcusable. He should be banged up until he confess the murder, and if he confesses he should face gallow. But I am afraid Kenya is a country full of Mzungu arse-lickers. Mzungu is seen as untouchable and that's why the idiot got the guts to commit double murder.
If Tom is acquitted, then I will be very ashamed to have come from Kenya.

Anonymous said...

So now all of a sudden a nondescprit stone mason called Njoya matters when we are almost to know who caused 1200 + kenyans to lose their lives.Pls stop sidetracking us let us deal with the hot issue of the moment -Judge Kriegler,am even raising my hand in the air,we want Kriegler,we want Kriegler!!

kalamari said...

I totally agree with the above anons, there's definitely three types of legal systems in Kenya…..and indeed around the world….esp. in Hollywood. The way I see it, Paris Hilton should be in jail. So should OJ.

Anyway, the way of the world cannot allow the poor to get justice. No way! Kwani baba yako ni nani?

My dear children, the human being is innately a very very evil being. When it calls for it, we will use all our resources to put down and crash those we consider poor. In fact, the poor in today's world are simply modern day slaves. After all, who is Njoya? And who is that 'mboch' scrubbing your floors? And what about that watchman freezing the night away? What about that messenger who must buy his own grey uniform? Si all these are disposable humans. Built and put on earth to cook our meals and clean our toilets. Yes folks, that is who we really are.

It's not as if we are born good then become evil. The truth of the matter is that we are born very evil then maybe become good…if we find Jesus.

In the case of Njoya, it's clear he was built and put on this earth to provide 'target practice'. He probably would have survived if he had a narrower ass.

The call here is not to have justice prevail or to make us 'human'; it is to make us 'Godly'.

Anonymous said...

Chris, are you trying to divert our attention from all the hot issues going on at the moment. Killing a human being is plain wrong but, what makes Cholmondeley's case diffrent from the mungikis that were killed by the 'authorities' and dumped in forests. Or even the well known political assasiantions?
The Mwatela issue is still hot(haki these people have guts)and Kriegler has just handed in his report castigating the illegitimate sloth that hurriedly swore himself back to power. With egg all over his face I wonder what authority he has to face any Kenyans outside central or eastern. The next four years will surely be long.

Kimi Raikkonen said...

There are 10000(!) animal species on a mere 55000 acres that can be hunted? You must be referring to small game like mosquitoes and safari ants included?

Anonymous said...

You Kenyans Worship Wazungu , anything Mzungu says is the Holy truth, Kreigler talks you all bow,Tom kills you all smile, an evengelical preacher advocates hate , you all hate your fellow country men .Why that is because mzungu said so.And this is the reason why all of you are slaves in nature professors, doctors , black preachers, black journalist e.t.c.Nothing but slaves Period.And this will not change unless you change your perspective of the world.Slaves in mind ,slaves indeed.

Anonymous said...

Murder as defined by law is killing someone with intent. I dont see intent in this scenario. The worst Tom will get is manslaughter.

Kwale said...

Since no-one seems to know about the happy valley set where Tom Cholmondeley hails from, let me give you an overview serialised from the film "white Mischief".

The Happy Valley Set was a group of privileged British colonials living in the Rift Valley region of the Wanjohi Valley, near the Aberdare mountain range, founded by Lord Delamere. The elite social group became notorious for stories of drug use and promiscuous sexual encounters. And when Lord Erroll moved to Kenya in 1924, he and his wife settled in the happy valley and immediately succumbed to the hedonistic lifestyle of Happy Valley of sex, drugs and parties. It didn't take long for him to meet the young and beautiful Lady Broughton, wife of Sir Broughton and affair started. And when her husband learnt the affair, it also didn't take long; Lord Erroll was found shot dead at a crossroad in Ngong Road, Nairobi in 1941.

Sir Broughton was immediately accused of murder, arrested and stood trial at Nairobi High court but was sensationally acquitted due to lack of evidence. He later returned to England and committed suicide. Lord Erroll was later laid to rest at St Paul's church in Kiambu next to his wife who died of drug overdose. But the murder case of Lord Erroll still remains unsolved and anyone with any information is asked to contact Langata police. There was a long running series in UK called "I know who shot Lord Erroll" in late 80s early 1990s.

Lord Delamere later married the widow of Lord Erroll, a marriage that ended in divorce.

The Happy Valley set is widely blamed for resurgent of post colonial promiscuity that extended to the black population and is still rife in Kenya today. And the passion of many descendants of Happy Valley is still alive and kicking in Karen and Muthaiga today. They are known to engage in orgies, drugs and parties which lead to death of another prominent Mzungu called Toni Trzebinski who's murder in 2001 also remain unsolved. He was shot dead at the gate of his lover in Karen 7 years ago after a very public affair with another woman. He was married to Tom Cholmondeley aunt.

Anonymous said...

Kwale,
See how irrelevant you are? Most of us read the book 'white mischief' which will give you a clearer picture of the murder of lord Eroll by Sir Jock Broughton(he confessed it to a relative after the trial.) Not the distortion you got in a movie half a century later and want to feed us on. The Eroll case was a crime of passion while Cholmondeley's was a score during a sporting activity.

Ajwang' said...

If we can elect Mbugua as MP for Kamukunji..plus all the thugs that masquarade as MPs. If Moi is a hero. Why are we outraged about Tom Cholmondwhatever? Because he is white?

Anonymous said...

I hope he goes to kamiti maximum and amangwe rasa na wagondi. Fala yeye.

A black Kenyan would never be given the VIP treatment this murderer is getting.

Shame on Wako for betraying his own people.

Anonymous said...

What about the thing everyone is missing here, is it completely OK for a man to go and destroy farm of someone else just because he is a different tribe? 1200 dead Kenyans don't have much of a voice do they? the f.. govo should do something about the tide of destruction of the environment in the rural areas.
If cholmondeley had been black, would anyone be worried. If he's 38 then he was born after independence and it is bigoted to extrapolate a whole POV about someone you really kno little about... do as you would be done by ne?
Njoya was defo up to no good, why is he suddenly a Kuke saint?

Anonymous said...

For the white 'anons' posting here about 'mungiki killing Kenyan and nothing done about it', well, here have you been, when bodies have been dug up in karura forest etc? This mzungu belongs to one of those holes , and he is only alive, getting VIP treatment -and going through kangaroo courts- only cos he is white.Trust Africans to behave like this, even one AG even letting him off scott-free the first time around.

Anonymous said...

I would like you to guess whether I am black or white, Kenyan or non-Kenyan.

In my opinion we must rely on the legal system and allow the court to decide on this case, which is certainly not straightforward.

If we think the justice system is failing, we must change it, but we must not, can not, blame a single man (black or white) for all social and legal injustices in Kenya, allowing our own prejudices to cloud our own judgements.

If we want a better Kenya, we must all wipe the dust from our eyes. I would not swap my life with a poor, landless black man, but I would also not swap with a white man who has been in jail for a very long time and who is the object of such biassed criticism.

Have some compassion, for both the family of the dead black man and the family of the imprisoned white man and appreciate your own lives.

Anonymous said...

You can't even add up!

Cholmondeley was born in 1968 and that makes him 40 and not 38!!

Anonymous said...

When are black people going to wake up and stop rationalizing the the white man's murderous deeds in Africa. Would the African be allowed to just walk on to England and claim land without without the white man taking swift and deadly revenge? There is no grey areas, the land is not theirs legally, its African birthright land that supposed to be inherit by those ofsprings of the rightful owners.
It is time to remove these people from our lands and reclaim what given to us by God himself. These people cant run off to places like Italy, France, spain when they need to escape the life in their countries, what has the black man got? Not even the right to his own ancestrial land

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