Thuo Gachogo: The Open Air Mechanic Who Built A Multi-Billion Business Empire, Never Owned A Car

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Thuo Gachogo: The Open Air Mechanic Who Built Multi-Billion Empire Now Contested By His 5 Wives
File image of Thuo Gachogo. |Courtesy| The Standard|

The story of late Kiambu billionaire Thuo Gachogo adds to similar incidents that have for years dogged prominent families in the country and across the world following the death of patriarchs and matriarchs.

Gachogo rose from an open-air mechanic who used his wit to earn government contracts to repair state vehicles. His speciality was pannel beating at Ngara, Nairobi. He earned millions in the process which he used to acquire multiple properties across Nairobi and Kiambu Counties.

According to a report by The Standard, the billionaire businessman owned apartments and commercial buildings in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD), Nairobi West, South C, Westlands Ngara, Eastleigh, Thika Road, Kiambu, Ruiru, Githunguri and Ikinu, among several other parcels of land.

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Gachogo owned 16 developed plots on each side of the road in Nairobi West. Other properties included several buildings along Mutundu Road in Westlands, more than an acre undeveloped plot in Ngara which is used as an open garage. He also holds the lease to the buildings that once housed the post office near St Theresa in Eastleigh.

“I worked with him from 1968 for three years. Gachogo never took alcohol or smoked. During the Shifta war, he had a lucrative business panel beating military vehicles. His cover was blown later by another mechanic, Muiruri Laban who caused a story of the open air garage millionaire to be published. Gachogo decided to retire,” a 68-year-old confidant told The Standard.

The billionaire businessman was so reclusive that he had no mobile phone and no member of his family had an inventory of his wealth. His rents were collected by his agents and lawyers who banked it in his accounts.

“Every time he is going to transact in a bank, the manager has to make special arrangements to receive the old man. He has no car to his name and moves around in a taxi driven by trusted allies,” a friend of Gachogo said.

Battle for estate

According to a source who sought anonymity, one of Gachogo’s wives was nearly shot outside a bank in Kiambu as irate relatives fought over money.

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Following the death of Gachogo, a battle for control of his multi-billion estate emerged between his five legal wives. Other women also emerged claiming to have been spouses of the late businessman and demanded a share of his estate.

The businessman’s first wife, Wambui, now deceased and was survived by four children. His second wife, Hannah Mwika died in the early 1990s, leaving behind four children.

Gachogo’s third wife Naomi Wambui who has eight children and the fourth wife, Nancy Wanjiru who has five, have been locked in a battle for the billionaire’s wealth. They have been frequent guests in police stations and at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

On January 22, 2019, the family had yet another crazy confrontation outside a bank in Kiambu when the businessman went to withdraw Ksh2 million for his huge family.

“On January 18, I was beaten by Peter Ndung’u Thuo one of the sons of my co-wife, Naomi. He insulted and threatened to eliminate me. I saw with my own eyes as my husband who is frail being bundled into a police vehicle and driven off,” Wanjiru stated.

She claims to have reported the assault at Kiambu Police Station but instead, she was locked up and later denied a P3 form until she reported the matter to DCI headquarters in Nairobi.

However, on his part, Ndung’u said that Wanjiru was one of his father’s concubines and accused her of waylaying his father because he was withdrawing Ksh2 million for a project he was undertaking in Eastleigh.

“The police and bank officials were alarmed. It is true I tackled her but I did not threaten her with a gun. I am a licensed gun holder and cannot harm this woman with it. However, if she trespasses on our home in Ikinu, she should not blame me if she is harmed,” Ndung’u said.

Wanjiru moved to the police seeking the arrest of Ndung’u for allegedly assaulting her and causing her bodily harm.

She further claimed that on the day of the confrontation, Gachogo had called her to give her money meant for school fees for her children.

“Mzee had told me he was to give me Ksh800, 000. However immediately my husband came and before he could give me the money, one of my stepsons, Peter Ndung’u attacked me,” Wanjiru said.

Josiah Gachogo, Mzee’s son with the second wife, Mwika stated that it had become difficult to reach their father since he was residing in Ikinu with his fourth wife.

“This family has been hostile. Everybody lives in fear and my son Thomas Kariuki has been attacked on a number of occasions for siding with my father’s fourth wife.”

Ndung’u claimed that he had nothing against the first and second wives but was only opposed to the claim that Wanjiru was his father’s fourth wife.

“My father is a billionaire. Many women some former girlfriends and concubines claiming to be wives have emerged. My father has been manipulated by these women because he is very old. I am happy he no longer ventures out of home. He is out of reach of these claimants. I have reported Nancy to the CID for forging my father’s document to lease and sell some of his property,” he said.

“I have the power of attorney to act on behalf of my father. My father is a billionaire and I now control his estate. We have revoked some lease agreements and sale of plots done against my father’s wish,” he added.

On December 19, 2016, Gachogo convened a meeting with ten members of his family and two administrators where Ndung’u insisted that Wanjiru was not his father’s wife.

However, during the meeting that was at the County Deputy commissioner’s officein Ruiru, Gachogo said Wanjiru was his wife but warned her not to continue with a building she had been constructing at Ruiru without the family’s consent.

Wanjiru produced a document dated October 25, 1995, which detailed how Gachogo and her father Gibson Kuria Njoroge negotiated her dowry and she was married according to Kikuyu traditions.

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