The body of Munuhe, a businessman and former journalist, was found at his home in Gitu, Karen in Nairobi on January 14th 2003. It was later revealed that he was an informer of the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the hunt for Rwandan genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga. His murder still remains a mystery.
Three things. Officially, Michael Munuhe’s death is still considered a suicide. Two, his name was actually William. Three, he wasn’t a journalist when he died.
William Munuhe Gichuki’s body was found in his bed on January 17th, 2003. He had been shot once in the head and there was a jiko next to his bed. His face was disfigured, most likely postmortem, with acid. He had been dead at least two days.
Munuhe was killed when he tried to lead Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga to a trap in his home. The closest anyone had ever come to catching Kabuga before that January in 2003 was six years prior, in 1997, and at least once in August 1994. In the 1997 raid, all Kenyan police found in the townhouse where Kabuga had been hiding was a note from one of them warning Kabuga of the ambush. Then in 2002, Munuhe said he had met Kabuga, and he was willing to help the many police agencies looking for him catch him.
A few hours after Munuhe died on January 15th, Kenyan and American police lay in wait outside his house waiting for the Rwandan to arrive. They gave up after six hours and left, unknowingly leaving the corpse of their contact inside the house. When he still didn’t show up two days later, they broke into his house.
By the time he died, Munuhe wasn’t a journalist. He had become a government supplier and a bagman for a senior public servant, two things that would eventually lead to his death. In the years before, Munuhe had worked for The Star, and then for The People Daily as a freelancer. At 27, he had weaved his way through the complex underworld of government tenders. The house he would be found in, where he had lived for a while, was in Karen.
A letter his family found in his pants, written in late December 2002, detailed an earlier kidnapping. The 27-year-old former journalist had been abducted from the Safari Park Hotel and driven for four hours in the boot of a car. He was then taken to a room, beaten and interrogated. Later he was taken into a room where he met Kabuga and three men who told him that they had recordings of his sit-downs with an FBI handler only known as “Mr. Scott.”
The month before he wrote the letter, Munuhe had written another to powerful Moi-era PS Zakayo Cheruiyot telling him he had spoken to Kabuga. The CID then summoned Munuhe, and within weeks Kabuga abducted him. Munuhe told the FBI he could bring Kabuga to them, so they set up a trap only they were a few hours too late.
At the time of the Rwandan genocide, Kabuga was Rwanda’s richest man and one of the financiers of the genocide. His trail went cold once he entered Kenya. He was given a false identity as Sadiki Nzakobi, a military man, treated in military hospitals and given round-the-clock military protection. One member of his detail, Michael Sarunei, was later killed after he photographed Kabuga in 2008.
Munuhe and Sarunei are not the only two people whose deaths have been linked to the Rwandan fugitive. The third was a retired colonel and medical doctor, Peter Rwakwach. Officially, Rwakwach died of a heart attack. He had treated Kabuga in military facilities several times before he retired in 2002.