The rise and fall of Jowie Irungu: From fast lane to being condemned to death

Joseph Irungu alias Jowie aged 33 years old is handcuffed at Milimani court on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The saga of Joseph Kuria ‘Jowie’ Irungu is one that captivated the nation, weaving a narrative of fame, love, and ultimately, betrayal.

From his humble beginnings in Nakuru County to the glitz of the media spotlight, Jowie’s story reads like a modern tragedy, with twists and turns that have left the public reeling.

Born into a modest family in Nakuru, Jowie’s early years were marked by a relentless pursuit of Christianity and education, with a particular interest in security management.

This dedication led him to a promising career in private security, even taking him abroad to Dubai, where his expertise garnered recognition on an international scale.

On June 30, 2018, Jowie went down on one knee and asked Jacque Maribe, a top-flying, beautiful television anchor and news reporter at the peak of her career, for her hand in marriage, to which she said yes!

Jowie was also involved with Eleanor Musangi Ndambo, with whom, as reported by a local entertainment site, he shares a child.

On September 19, 2018, Monica Kimani, a businesswoman, returned to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from a business trip in South Sudan.

Upon arrival, Monica took a taxi to her apartment at Nairobi’s Lamuria Gardens in Kilimani, intending to spend the night there.

The following morning, Monica was discovered murdered, her throat slit, and her body left in the bathtub with the water running.

It was at this juncture that Jowie’s life took a dark turn, forever altering the trajectory of his fate. The murder of Monica sent shockwaves across the country, thrusting Jowie into the centre of a criminal investigation that would dominate newspaper headlines for years to come.

At the time of Monica’s tragic death, Jowie was engaged to Maribe, adding another layer of intrigue to an already sensational case.

The prosecution, represented by Wangui Gichui, presented a total of 35 witnesses, including some who were under witness protection, along with numerous documented pieces of evidence.

These were put forward to establish the case against Jowie and Maribe who was eventually acquitted after initially being linked to the murder by investigators.

The prosecution’s argument contended that Jowie acted as the primary perpetrator, while Maribe played a role as an accomplice who was aware of the events but participated in concealing them.

Leading the investigation, Officer Maxwell Otieno endeavoured to reconstruct Monica’s final moments and track Jowie’s movements preceding the murder of the businesswoman. To aid in this effort, the court conducted a site visit, during which crucial details of the events were provided.

“It was a well-executed plan where the accused person stole an identity card at their Royal Park Estate residence and used it to access Lamuria Gardens, where he committed the murder, went back and burned the clothes, and borrowed a gun to shoot himself,” Otieno told the court.

As per the investigator’s report, Jowie’s movements commenced at Road House Grill in Kilimani on the evening of September 19, 2018, where he socialized with friends. He arrived at the establishment around 6 pm driving Maribe’s car accompanied by two friends.

Around 8pm, Jowie left the joint and headed to Lenana Road, from where he took a taxi to Monica’s residence where he used a stolen national ID card for access. He proceeded to House Number 8 on Block A, where Monica resided.

The stolen ID belonged to Dominic Hosea, who testified that he inadvertently left it at the gate of Royal Park Estate, where Jowie and Maribe resided before it went missing at the sentry box.

A witness confirmed Jowie’s use of the stolen ID at Lamuria Gardens, corroborating the prosecution’s case. Inside Monica’s residence, another witness identified Jowie as the last person seen with Monica before her tragic demise.

According to this witness, Jowie and another individual named Walid were with Monica upon her return from South Sudan. After spending some time at the house Walid walked out, leaving Jowie and Monica.

The events following the witness’s departure remain unclear, as Monica was discovered dead the following morning. Testimonies from the apartment’s caretaker and a police investigator detailed the gruesome scene, indicating Monica’s hands and legs were bound and her throat slit.

The post-mortem examination confirmed Monica’s cause of death as a severe neck injury leading to excessive bleeding. Additionally, the evidence presented tracked Maribe’s car movements on the night of the incident, indicating a route consistent with the prosecution’s timeline.

Further investigation revealed Jowie’s alleged visit to a club in Westlands following the murder, where he met Maribe. The couple returned to Maribe’s residence, where Jowie purportedly inflicted a gunshot wound on himself, later seeking aid from a neighbour. 

Hassan Nandwa, Jowie’s lawyer, passionately argued against the prosecution’s narrative, emphasizing the injustice of pinning the blame on Jowie solely based on his proximity to Monica before her death.

As the spotlight intensified on Jowie, once considered a figure of respect, his rapid descent into notoriety was a stark reminder of the fragility of human reputation. The prosecution side painted a troubling persona of a man capable of betraying the trust placed in him for nefarious ends.

Despite maintaining his innocence throughout the trial, Jowie’s image was irreversibly tarnished, his once promising future now overshadowed by the spectre of suspicion and mistrust.

Even attempts to rehabilitate his public image through music and expressions of faith were met with skepticism, as the weight of Monica’s murder hung heavy over his every move.

On February 9, justice was served as Jowie was found guilty of the murder before being sentenced to death on March 13 effectively dimming the star of a man who loved a life in the fast lane.


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