THE OUKO FAMILY ROW
That there was a severe disagreement in the Ouko family at this time there is no doubt.
Dorothy Randiak, Dr Ouko’s sister, in her first witness statement cited the cause of the row: “In 1985 the following happened. Barrack was working as Deputy PC in Nakuru in the Rift Valley Province. From there he was transferred to Deputy Secretary at the Attorney generals office. He did not want this move and he blamed it on Robert [Dr Ouko] because he had ambition to become Provincial Commissioner. Barrack discussed the move to try and prevent it but Robert done nothing about it because of reasons of which they both knew. This caused a lot of bitterness on Barracks part against Robert but Robert had no bad feeling towards Barrack. The situation still exists. Barrack also influenced Collins which in turn caused him to show bitterness against Robert also. The bitterness of both these brothers was maintained throughout and remained until the time Robert disappeared”. [pages 1-2 Dorothy Randiak’s witness statement 2 March, 1990]
Mrs Christabel Ouko confirmed Dorothy Randiak’s assertions: “It has been common knowledge that my husband and his brothers Barrack and Collins were not speaking to each other and there was a serious situation between them and that conflict existed between them. This goes back several years.” [page Mrs Christabel Ouko, statement 2 March, 1990]
Mrs Ouko continued [a couple of lines later], “It all started really because Barrack and Collins were not in an important position like my husband and it was really jealousy. In the beginning it was Barrack who was the worst and at the time of my husband disappearing the conflict still existed. My husband was always discussing with me these problems and was always baffled why his brothers were against him and scandalised him in public. In the last elections which were in 1988 Barrack openly canvassed against my husband during the campaign.” [page Mrs Christabel Ouko, statement 2 March, 1990]
In Dorothy Randiak’s second statement made to Troon on 27th March, 1990, she provided further details of the alleged dispute between Dr Ouko and his brothers: “I do remember that in December 1989 a photograph was found in my mother’s house. It was a photograph of a family group including my mother, my father and Collins. The picture of my mother had been cut out of the group.” [pages 1 Dorothy Randiak’s witness statement 27 March, 1990]
Later in the same statement she said, “Soon after this we had a clan meeting and Robert addressed them and said that this cutting of the picture had been the work of Collins.” [pages 1 Dorothy Randiak’s witness statement 27 March, 1990]
Dorothy Randiak also went on to state what she alleged her mother had said to her. “Some time last year  before the incident with the photograph, Collins had returned from Nairobi. It was always my mother’s custom to go and greet the members of the family when they return to Nyahera. On this occasion, Collins told mother never to come to his house again and that if she did he would cut her to pieces”.[pages 2 Dorothy Randiak’s witness statement 27 March, 1990]
And a few lines later in her second statement Dorothy Randiak gave what she claimed was the reason for her brother Collins dispute with their mother. “The reason behind all this I think is because Collins and Barrack are friendly with a man named Richard Oland. Now this man is bad and is a bad influence on Barrack and Collins. The rest of the family have never liked this man and it is for this reason that Collins has turned against his mother. It is Richard that persuades the young girls of the village to go to Barrack’s house when he comes from Nairobi and it is then that Barrack, Collins and Richard indulge in improper behaviour. As a result there has been allegations made by these young women against all three of these men.” [pages 2 Dorothy Randiak’s witness statement 27 March, 1990]
Dr. Joseph Oluoch, the Ouko family’s general practitioner and a family friend told Troon that he had a telephone conversation with Dr Ouko on Monday 12th February 1990. He said that Dr Ouko was ‘very concerned over the disruptive influence of his brothers Barrack and Collins and the effect it was having on the stability of the SEDA family’. He also told Troon that ‘there were other people behind the brothers using them to harass the Minister’. [TFR para 129]
Mr Erik James Onyango was described in Troon’s ‘Final Report’ as one of Dr Ouko’s ‘closest friends’ who had known the Minister for 25 years ‘and was also a very close friend of the family’. He confirmed to Troon that ‘the relationship between the Minister and his brother Barrack and emphasised the point that the situation was occasionally fuelled by political opponents of Dr Ouko.’ [TFR para 134]
Troon however, all but dismissed any link between the Ouko family row and the murder of Dr Ouko. Remarkably, given the weight of testimony to the contrary, Troon declared in only the sixth paragraph of his ‘Final Report’ that, ‘I have found nothing to indicate that the Minister’s immediate family circumstances were other than normal, happy and stable’. [TFR para 6]
However, Troon concluded:
‘To summarise the immediate family of Dr Ouko, I am not satisfied that they have told me everything they know [Troon’s underlining]. There appears to be a shroud of fear surrounding the whole family which prevents them from fully disclosing what I believe some of them must know.’ [TFR para 119]
It should be stressed that Troon was not suggesting by this that the family were necessarily involved in the murder of Dr Ouko but rather frightened of some sort of reprisal
The Kenya police’s ‘Further Investigations’ Report however, was not dissimilar in its conclusions. It stated, ‘We have not been able to penetrate deeply into the alleged squabbles within the family. This was because of the unco-operative attitude adopted by the members of the family of the late minister, particularly his sister Mrs. Randiak and his brother Barrack Mbajah’. [KPFI 8:5 p57]
The conclusion of the Parliamentary Select Committee Investigation published in March 2005 raised similar concerns, this time about Mrs Ouko: ‘Arising from her evidence before the Committee, it is observed that, even at this late stage, she did not tell everything she knew about her late husband’s death for reasons best known to her. She appeared reluctant to give evidence before the Committee and only attended when summoned severally. The Committee observed that deeper investigations be carried out on her evidence’. [Select Committee Investigations, march 2005, Vol I, page 97, para 211].
The Kenya police were not able to question Barrack Mbajah further as he had fled the country to the USA. The Kenya police reported that they did not know how he had left the country – he did appear to have used the ‘official entry’ – or why he had left and why he was granted asylum by the United States Government.
There is no direct evidence of family involvement in the murder of Dr Robert Ouko but each investigation conducted into his murder suggested that some knew more than they were saying.
What is worthy or note was Troon’s reaction to and assessment of the undoubted long-running row in the Ouko family. He either seems to ignore it or dismiss it without really saying why. One cannot but help get the feeling that ‘family row’ theory got in the way of theories Troon had come to believe, those arising from Marianne Briner-Mattern’s allegations.
Dr Ouko’s brother Barrack was also facing accusations from a member of the late Minister’s domestic staff.
THE SALINA WERE TAPES – ALLEGATIONS AGAINST BARRACK MBAJAH
Suspecting that Dr Ouko’s maid, Salina Were, was not telling everything that she knew, the Kenya police decided to tape record telephone conversations with her.
The Kenya police’s ‘Further Investigations’ Report told how this was done:
‘It was, therefore, decided that someone whom she could trust should be looked for so that he could talk to her while we monitor the discussion and without her knowledge. An informer was found and a discussion took place on a number of occasions. The discussion was taped on each occasion’. [KPFI 9:3 p73]
And then the Report set out what had been recorded:
‘In a tape recorded discussion, Salina Were alleged that on 11th February, 199o, Mr. Barrack Mbajah held a meeting at Bulma Bar, Muhoroni where the murder of the late minister was hatched. She claimed that Amos Agalo (now deceased) conspired with Barrack Mbajah to murder the late minister. She went on to say that a lot of money was paid and a motor vehicle was given to the person who was the leader of the murder gang. She went on to say that Amos Agalo had said that he was going to kill Dr. Ouko because he had terminated his services there.’ [KPFI 9:3 pages 73-74]
Salina Were then listed the conspirators:
Ouma Agalo (brother to Amos)
Zablon Agalo Obonyo (father of Amos)
Peter Obura Raila
‘She also mentioned Anguka’s employees namely, Anthony, Odongo and Hassan as possible conspirators. She said that they were associates of Amos Agalo.’ [KPFI 9:3 p74]
Salina Were claimed that Ouma Agalo, his brother Amos Agalo and other conspirators were paid Shs. 400,000/- for the murder and even named the bank, Barclays Bank, Kisumu, where the money was allegedly paid to the conspirators by an Administrative Police Inspector, Samuel Owino of Kamagabo. [KPFI 9:3 p74]
She went on to add more detail to her story. She alleged that Barrack Mbajah ‘was seen near Onyango Jimbo’s home the day Dr. Ouko disappeared. The home of Onyango Jimbo is close to where the body of Dr. Ouko was found. When Mbajah was asked where he was going, he claimed that he missed his way to Dr. Ouko’s home. She said that she thought Mbajah was coming from the scene where the body of the late minister was found’. [KPFI 9:3 pages 74-75]
It all sounded explosive and damaging testimony, even there may have been an element of entrapment, but when confronted with the recordings, although she admitted that they were recordings of her conversations, she then claimed the allegations were not true.
Salina Were said that ‘she alleged that Barrack Mbajah killed his brother brutally because Mbajah had told a lie about her. She said that Mbajah had alleged that she had given a document containing the names of the people who collected Dr. Ouko, which was lie. She retracted all what she alleged in the tape.’ [[KPFI 9:3 p75]
The Kenya police conclude that Salina Were was ‘unreliable’ and had told a ‘deliberate lie’. They therefore ‘attached no value on her tape recorded discussion with the informer’.
A WOMAN SCORNED?
The row in the wider family was not the only domestic concern Dr Robert Ouko had just prior to his murder. In her first statement to Troon Mrs Christabel Ouko explained.
“About a month or two ago we were in Nairobi and had been out to dinner. We had a happy evening. When we got home my husband said that something had been bothering him for some time. He then said that in a moment of weakness he had had an affair with another woman and there was a child as a result of this. He said he wanted to get it off his chest. I had no previous knowledge of this, this may have been two months ago [December, 1989]”. [Christabel Ouko’s first statement, 2nd March, 1990, p2]
She continued a few lines later, “I don’t know who this woman is even now. She has never been identified to me. I think some of the other members of the family know about this.”
The ‘other woman’ was a Miss Herine Violas Ogembo. Troon stated in his report that she was a “nursing officer of Golf Course, Phase 1, House 138, Nairobi” and that she stated that she met Dr Ouko in 1982 and that they had “an association which lasted up until the death of the Minister’ and that in May 1983 she gave birth to a daughter which Dr Ouko acknowledged was his and monthly payments were made by him to support the child”. [TFR para 121]
Troon continued, “It would appear that the relationship was close and the Minister would at times either take Miss Ogembo on official visits abroad or arrange her travel to meet him at selected venues. The relationship was apparently open and many of his close friends and colleagues knew of their association.” [TFR paras 122 & 123]
“Dr Ouko’s brothers and sisters also knew of the relationship but his wife Christabel stated at interview that she only discovered about the relationship during the latter part of 1989 when Dr Ouko confessed to her his association with Miss Ogembo”.
But in late 1989 and early 1990 there was evidence that Dr Ouko’s relationship with Violet Ogembo may not have been his only ‘moment of weakness’.
Mrs Christabel Ouko, in her first statement to Troon said that some time between Dr Ouko telling her of his relationship with Violet Ogembo (so between Nov/Dec and Feb) she had another telephone call one evening while her husband was out working late “from a woman who asked where my husband was as she was his wife”.
“My husband came in soon after this call and I asked where he had been. He said why did I ask. I had not asked him ever before. I then told him about the call and he said it was a big joke. But when he realised I was not joking he telephoned the people he had been with to confirm where he had been.” Christabel Ouko’s first statement, 2nd March, 1990, p3]
Dr Ouko told his wife that he didn’t know who had telephoned but he would find out “however many years it might take him”
Mrs Ouko received another call about 6 o’clock one evening in mid/late January. The caller said ‘“Is that Mrs Ouko?” and I think the person said a name which I didn’t hear. The person was a woman. I asked her to repeat the name but she said “Never mind, I am the co wife and I have two children of your husband, tell him to look up his children, I am going to make life very difficult for you!” I said “Why don’t you tell him yourself?” she said “I don’t see much of him”. She then put the phone down.’ Christabel Ouko’s first statement, 2nd March, 1990, p3]
Christabel Ouko continued:
“When my husband came home I told him about this call and he said that he was glad that this had happened as he could now tell me what he had found out. He told me that he had called the lady that he had the affair with and asked if she made the telephone calls to her home. He then told me he thought it was his brothers Barrack and Collins who had planted some ladies to make these telephone calls to harass me and he said that at that night he had been to the Inter Continental Hotel to a delegation meeting, and that the person who phoned must have been there to see him leave. The lady my husband had the affair with said Barrack had been to see her and had said to her “Why don’t you bring the child home because I (me) was a bad person”. It has been common knowledge that my husband and his brothers Barrack and Collins were not speaking to each other and there was a serious situation between them and that conflict existed between them.”
Violet Ogembo, Dr Ouko’s “mistress”, also confirmed to Troon that just before Dr Ouko died she had received anonymous telephone calls from an unknown female who claimed that Mrs Ouko knew of the affair with her husband and that Mrs Ouko wanted to kill her and her daughter. Ogembo stated she had told Dr Ouko of the phone calls and he in turn had said that Mrs Ouko was also receiving similar calls. [TFR para 127]
Dorothy Randiak also gave testimony that the allegations regarding Dr Ouko and relationships with other women might have been inter-connected with the row in the family.
In her first statement to Troon, Randiak stated:
‘I have been asked whether my brother had a mistress at any time. My answer to that is that I do not know, but I have since learned that Robert and his wife both received anonymous telephone calls and Robert told me it was a woman who was doing it and he thought that Barrack had fed the information in, Robert was not worried about the information, but was worried about Barrack’s actions and being scandalised by him to harm his good name.’ [Dorothy Randiak, witness statement, 2nd March]
The Kenya police’s investigation looked into Dr Ouko’s ‘Domestic situation’. They noted that: ‘The general talk in the area was that the late minister was a womanizer’. He used to have love affairs with married women who included Mrs. Anguka, who was his Personal Assistant [and married to Jonah Anguka]. But they also stated that, ‘We have found no evidence for this. [KPFI 8:6 pages 59-60]
The Kenya police said they had also been given the names of other women, within the Koru and Kisumu area, that Dr Ouko was alleged to have had relationships with but there was no ‘concrete evidence’ to back up the allegations and that as ‘they are married women, we have found it improper to include their names in this report’. [KPFI 8:6 p60]
Further allegations were received, namely that Dr Ouko had not stayed at his Koru farm between February 5th and 8th.
Whilst they said they could not rule out ‘women involvement’ or that there was a ‘possibility of women affairs having been one of the motive[s] for murder of Dr Ouko, the Kenya police conclude the evidence was lacking.
The Kenya police’s discretion was perhaps touching but it is surprising given the weight of testimony and that they were investigating not only a murder but a high profile murder of Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, that this line of inquiry was not more rigorously pursued.
Similarly, it has already been noted that the British detective John Troon largely dismissed family and domestic issues as having played a part in Dr Ouko’s murder, and subsequent inquiries – the Judicial Inquiry in 1990-1 and the Parliamentary Committee investigation in 2004-5 – dealt very delicately with the subject if at all.
However, the question must be posed: how angry was Mrs Ouko? She had found out in the last five to six weeks before her husband was murdered that he had a mistress, a child by her, used to take her on holiday and to official functions, and that her family and friends knew all along but she did not. And having been told this she then started receiving calls for a woman, or other women, saying that they had his children or were his ‘co-wife’. The last of these calls appears to have been one week before Dr Ouko flew to Washington.
Next Chapter: Local Politics-Local Motives