John Kiriamiti Biography, Age, Family, Education & Life In Crime

In Summary

John Kiriamiti is a reformed serial criminal who at one time orchestrated daring broad daylight bank heist, at a time when the president’s convoy was just miles away from Naivasha town.

-Kiriamiti spent a total of 16 years in prison, and breathed freedom the same day iconic South African President Nelson Mandela was released.

-Born Batista Wanjohi, Kiriamiti’s life is punctuated with buzzworthy details – he   was born on Valentines day, married a Catholic nun and wrote what has transformed to be a script of a blockbuster movie. 

It is without doubt that John Kiriamiti is a revered novelist whose first book; ‘My Life in Crime’ published when he was still in prison became a bestseller. For this fact, Kiriamiti became a celebrity whose name was previously inundated in leading newpapers as a dreaded criminal who was giving detectives and the police sleepless nights.


Kiriamiti was born on 14th February, 1950 (71 years old as at 2021).


As he wrote in his maiden book, both his parents were teachers in Murang’a.

Kiriamiti is married to a woman called Julian and who is identified as ‘Milly’ in one of his novels. He is a father of 3 daughters and is grateful he wasn’t blessed with a son perhaps for the fear that he would pick up his criminal tendencies.

One of Kiriamiti’s daughter, Annrita is a budding actress and script writer whose future in the competitive entertainment industry looks promising.


The novelist studied at Thuita Primary School (Murang’a) then joined Prince of Wales Secondary School (now renamed Nairobi School) where in 1965 he was expelled for fighting white boys who he claims ‘weren’t keen on having to share facilities with Africans.’

As narrated in My Life in Crime, Kiriamiti who was then living with his relatives didn’t inform them of the expulsion. It was only realized later when his brother revealed what had befallen him.

However, Kiriamiti never resumed studies and resorted to crime after he met and made friends with a group of young men in the streets of Nairobi.

Life in Crime

On his first mission, Kiriamiti was tasked with snatching a bag from a Briton who had withdrawn money meant to pay his casual laborers.

With only a machete in his arm, Kiriamiti was nervous but he managed to accomplish the daring mission.

“In my first ever major mission in stealing, I was tasked to go and snatch a bag containing money from a Briton. I only had a machete and I was afraid. We had to wait until he got out of the bank and I was told to act. I managed to rob him. My colleagues fired in the air and that is how we managed to escape,” recounts Kiriamiti.

However, Kiriamiti hatched the plan of robbing banks as this would earn them big money. At one time, he recalls how they orchestrated one of the most daring bank heist at a time when the late President Moi’s convoy was traversing Naivasha town. As expected, the security was tight, but they had to do it, in fact in a record 6 minutes.

I remember there was a chief inspector because the president was on his way to Nakuru. The security was tight but since we had decided we were going to do this, we said we had to go ahead, and we had to take the shortest time possible then vanish,” Kiriamiti says.

According to Kiriamiti bank robberies involved an insider who will give important details like positioning of alarm buttons.

Into the new decade in 1970, Kiriamiti’s name was in the lips of Kenyans as his photos were published in newsprint papers as a serial, dangerous criminal. Kiriamiti was wanted ‘alive or dead.’

Though he had been described as a ‘the most vicious gangster,’ Kiriamiti maintains that at no time did he ever injure leave alone kill a human being

And in order to bring him to book,  a dreaded detective by the name Patrick Shaw who was nicknamed ‘Romeo 9’ and ‘Nairobi crime buster’ was tasked with trailing Kiriamiti.

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In 1971, Kiriamiti was arrested in Nairobi’s River Road and convicted of a number of felonies including robbery with violence. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

While in prison, the serial criminal wrote a manuscript of his first book which was inspired by the novel Across The Bridge written by the late Mwangi Gicheru. The novel (Across The Bridge) basically involves a poor man who impregnated his boss’ daughter then resorted to crime after failing in various businesses.

After 13 years, Kiriamiti was released. His freedom was a blessing that served to boost his novel’s sales. It is reported that Nairobians queued up in bookshops as they cleared ‘My Life in Crime’ from the bookshelves.

But Kiriamiti was arrested in 1987 as a person of interest in a case which embitters him to date because at that time he was tipping special officers on various crimes,  popularly known as ‘Mwakenya affairs’. In 1990, he was released following the intervention of a local MP.

Kiriamiti still contemplated returning to crime in order to revenge over the 1987 arrest but his wife influenced him to reform.

She discovered guns in my room and informed my brother and sisters. She changed me. Later we decided to settle in Kiriaini and start a new life…what saved me was my wife, Julian,” revealed the 72 year old.

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The renowned novelist currently visits various prisons to speak against crime and is involved in reforming street urchins. He is an author of at least 7 novels including My Life in Crime, My Life in Prison, Son of Fate, The Sinister Trophy among others.

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