In 2020, a ‘dramatic kidnapping’ happened in Thika town, Kiambu County which left locals bewildered and detectives scratching their heads over the bizarre incident. The victim was a well to do rags to riches tycoon named Julius Gitau who was ‘kidnapped’ and reappeared 75 days later without anyone knowing his whereabouts. Three days after he went missing, his Ksh 46 million life insurance was renewed and the insurance company started tracing the next of kin.
The disappearance muddied the millionaire’s name as three women appeared claiming to be his wives and wanted to be identified as beneficiaries to his multi-millionaire estate.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
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Journey From Rags To Riches
The Class Four dropout fortunes changed and he went on to own several business and a general merchandise wholesale situated in Ruo House, Thika.
According to the Daily Nation, the proprietor of Jugi Investment had daily cash flow of Ksh 350,000 before the pandemic hit. In August 2019, he approached a local bank seeking a loan and listed 39 assets that were evaluated and estimated to be worth Ksh 600 million. However, his businesses took a hit at the height of the pandemic and he could only manage to make Ksh20,000 per day. This pushed him to the edge since he couldn’t fund his lifestyle and service his loans. According to family members who spoke to the Daily Nation, this pushed the tycoon to depression.
Before his ‘abduction’, he showed his three declared wives their matrimonial properties.
On 21st September 2020 at around 9.30 am, Gitau left his general merchandise wholesale shop in Thika in his yellow lorry claiming that he was going to a gym in Ngoingwa estate. He never went to the gym but called his driver Geoffrey Wachira directing him to pick the vehicle from Bluepost hotel. He left the truck keys, his phone and a suicide note on the dashboard of the vehicle which read: ‘Kwa familia yangu, nimechoka na mashida ya maisha. Najitupa Kwa mto.’
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According to his close associates who spoke to the Daily Nation, Gitau had been lamenting that the bank and other creditors were on his neck. He reportedly took expensive loans and invested poorly without the help of a financial advisor. For instance, court documents indicated that he secured a Ksh46 million commercial loan by using assets worth Ksh200 million as collateral. He also took a Ksh58 million life insurance cover which he used as collateral to borrow Ksh 10 million.
After 75 days of relentless investigations of his whereabouts and his businesses remaining closed down coupled with family feuds over the control of the vast estate, Gitau mysteriously appeared. He claimed to have been abducted at gunpoint in broad daylight near Kenya Revenue Authority offices in Thika.
He said that he lost consciousness after being forced to drink a soda only to find himself in a big building with a hall when he regained consciousness. He told the police that he was made to wash clothes, utensils and once in a while, clean the compound. He further claimed that he had no chance of knowing the owners of the home and cannot describe its appearance and location since he was restricted to the servant quarters. He wondered why anyone would keep him as a domestic worker for such a long time. He narrated to the police how he was later released like in a movie scene.
“I was handed over to two heavily built men on Saturday around 4am. We walked for hours before entering a forest. The men then told me to continue walking and never look back. I later found myself on a dusty road. I was lucky because a bodaboda appeared almost immediately. I then borrowed him his mobile phone which I used to call my family before the bodaboda took me to the main road and offered me some money to board a matatu to Thika,” he explained.
However the police claim that it was not a typical kidnapping since Gitau appeared healthy with no signs of trauma. The kidnappers also didn’t call anyone to ask for a ransom and Gitau never reported his re-emergence until when the police got a signal from his number and tracked him.
What puzzled the detectives is that just three days after he went missing, his Ksh46 million life insurance was renewed and after the disappearance became public, the insurance company started to trace his next of Kin even when it had not been confirmed whether he was dead or alive. Detectives found a letter written by the insurance company and addressed to a member of the Gitau’s family.
“Take note that no matter the outcome of the search for our missing client, we cannot pay out a compensation as per our existing contract since there appears to exist a criminal plot to induce circumstances that can lead to making a compensation claim.” Read the statement from the insurance.
This question that remained answered was who had queried about compensation when Mr. Gitau was missing to warrant that response.
The Detectives’ report that were seen by Nation revealed that Mr Gitau was never abducted and was all along hiding in his third wife’s house, nursing his financial stress and hiding from creditors who were seeking to auction his properties. Detectives revealed that he had directed his eight vehicles to be moved to three locations – a petrol station, his third wife’s home and the truck he was driving to Thika Police Station.
The move was aimed to rescue the vehicles from the eyes of auctioneers. The CCTV footages at the place he claimed to have been abducted showed that nothing of the sort happened. The alleged scheme only ended up doing Gitau more harm than good. He came out from his hiding to face a collapsed business empire, debts and auctioneers and a risk of being arrested and charged for giving false information and spreading public fear.