Police in Kitui are investigating the gruesome murder of a Form Two student by unknown assailants, days after he won a Sh200,000 lottery from sports betting firm Betika. The 17-year-old boy was found murdered and his body dumped in a thicket a few kilometres from his rural home in Maliku area in Katulani district. He had been missing for several days.
Syengo Nyamai of Mavindini Day Mixed Secondary School is said to have won the money two weeks ago when he gambled in the 2023 Carabao Cup final match pitting Manchester United and Newcastle United. The match was played on February 26 at the Wembley Stadium in London, UK.
According to his elder brother, Mr Munyithya Nyamai, Syengo had used a neighbour’s national identity card to register a Safaricom SIM card that he used to enrol for the lottery, but he did not tell his family he had won the Sh200,000.
“We knew he had a phone, but never bothered to establish which ID number he used to register his mobile line because he had not yet attained the age of acquiring his own national ID card,” said the brother.
Earlier, Syengo has asked his mother to get him transferred to a boarding school, saying he would help to pay the higher school fees, without giving further details.
Mr Nyamai said his brother told two of his close friends how he had won the lottery. He also told them he planned to travel the following week to see some friends who had invited him to Likoni in Mombasa County.
Syengo was last seen on the morning of Monday, February 27, when he left for school as usual, but he never arrived there.
He had spent the previous evening with the two young friends – who have now been detained by detectives investigating the case – at the local shopping centre, where they watched the Carabao Cup Final, and stayed together late into the night.
The family got alarmed when Syengo failed to return home in the evening on the second day, and upon checking, they were told he had not been to school.
“We reported to the area chief that the boy was missing because it wasn’t his nature to disappear without informing the parents,” his brother said.
As the search for his whereabouts progressed, one of his two friends who is in police custody, came forward and told the family that Syengo had told them of plans to travel to Mombasa and he was to contact them upon reaching there to help in replacing his mobile line.
‘’The fellow told us our brother gave him his Sim card registration particulars, including the ID number used, mobile number, M-Pesa Pin and the mobile handset lock Pin to help in replacing the line that had won the Betika bonus,” said Mr Nyamai.
His body, with the eyes gouged out, was discovered in a thicket six days after he was last seen — on Saturday, March 4.
The scene where his body was found had motorcycle tire tracks, suggesting he might have been killed elsewhere and his body ferried to the place on the motorbike.
A post-mortem done at the Kitui County Referral Hospital revealed that his eyes were gouged out, his right hand was broken and there were injuries on the head.
Katulani DCI boss Collins Karanja confirmed that police had obtained custodial orders from the court to detain for questioning the two suspects who were last seen with the student.
“There’s very little we can divulge at the moment because the investigations are at the preliminary stage, but so far, we are holding two suspects and we are keen to establish the motive of the murder,” said the detective.
Detectives are keen to establish the last people who were in communication with the student and whether the winnings from the betting had been withdrawn from the mobile line.
Contacted for comment, Betika head of communications Kate Arudo said the case had not been brought to their attention and that persons below the age of 18 years are legally prohibited from betting.
“As a betting company, all we know is that any mobile number participating in our lotteries is duly registered as per the law, and we have no way of verifying if it’s being used by third parties or underage persons,” said Ms Arudo.