In early March this year, reports emerged that a flamboyant city businessman identified as Dafton Mwitiki had mysteriously gone missing and his vehicle found ditched near a coffee farm in Juja.
Speaking to the press later that week, the missing person’s brother recalled his last memory of “an agitated man” who was “in a rush to finish some work in his office, as he picked up his children from school” on the afternoon he vanished.
Before his bizarre disappearance, Mwitiki, a marksman famed for his accuracy, was a popular figure in the city’s shooting circles, having represented Kenya in the 2019 International Defensive Pistol Association Southern Nationals Shooting Competition in South Africa.
He fully came into the national limelight during the dusitD2 Nairobi terrorist attack on January 15, 2019, when he, alongside city politician Steve Mbogo, was pictured holding big guns at the scene.
For many years, deep details of Dafton Mwitiki’s dealings remained in the dark.
However, recent discoveries by detectives investigating his whereabouts have exposed many of the businessman’s illicit ventures which saw him quickly rise up the success ranks.
Fresh information now links Dafton Mwitiki, who went missing on March 11, to a kidnapping gang that extorted Sh4 million ransom from a prominent Kenyan family in exchange for their abducted girl.
The gang of five was behind the abduction the grandchild to the late politician Mark Too early this year.
The university student was taken hostage from their house in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa on January 13, and driven to Kisumu from where her kidnappers demanded a Sh20 million ransom for her release.
Her family reached out to President Uhuru Kenyatta who reportedly ordered security agencies to help trace the child and ensure she was rescued safely.
However, before the police could move into action, some family members went against instructions from detectives and negotiated with the gang for a Sh4 million fee.
The money, authorities say, was dropped at a makeshift structure near Maseno University on January 17 by the girl’s relative.
A masked man then took the bag, stashed it into a waiting vehicle then directed the one who had delivered the cash that they would find the girl once the car drove off.
The gang had warned against police involvement if they wanted the girl alive.
True to their word, moments after the car left, the relative who went to negotiate the deal saw the girl emerge from a short distance away.
The girl and her relative then drove to Nairobi.
Surprisingly, police say, investigations showed a mobile number used by the gang to communicate with the family was registered to Dafton Mwitiki.
Detectives privy to the case quoted by a local daily said the investigations revealed the number was rarely used in communication with his close relatives.
They believe the kidnappers had profiled the family before they struck.
After the kidnap of Too’s granddaughter, police started to profile those believed to have taken part in the scheme.
It was on February 27 that the same gang took hostage a Chinese businessman and demanded over Sh100 million as ransom from his partners and family.
According to investigations, the Chinese man was a business partner of Mwitiki, and the mobile phone line used in demanding ransom was also registered in Mwitiki’s name.
Detectives now hope that if Mwitiki is found, he will give an answer as to why a line registered to his name was used in criminal activities and whether he is an accomplice or it had been used without his knowledge.
During the rescue of the Chinese in Jamuhuri estate, four suspects, including a police officer, were killed. Police towed away a saloon car that was found in the compound.
Later, the owner of the car went to Kabete police station and recorded a statement saying he had leased it to Mwitiki for use and produced documents to back the claims.
As the car lies idle in the station, the owner wants police to release it as he had proved ownership and its status but police say they cannot release it until Mwitiki is found to explain why a car he hired was found at the crime scene.
The Chinese man was kidnapped from his shop on February 27 by individuals impersonating officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. (DCI)
Meanwhile, Mwitiki’s wife has taken possession of his car – a Land Rover Discovery – after she begged the court to compel police to release Mwitiki’s car for her use, saying she was suffering.
Family and friends of Mwitiki have insisted they want a speedy investigation into his nearly two months of disappearance.
As it stands, up to 15 people have recorded statements on Mwitiki’s disappearance with preliminary findings indicating that Mwitiki, who was a licensed firearms holder, a sharpshooter and well known in social circles, was last seen driving from his office off Galana road in Kilimani area.
CCTV footage showed a man driving out of Galana Plaza in the Land Rover before it vanished off the cameras on Thika road.
Apart from establishing the identity of the man who was last seen driving the car, detectives are combing through Mwitiki’s mobile call logs for more clues.
His phone was said to have lost signals around Thika Road Mall area while speeding towards Juja that night.
Mutuku’s double life, one as a doting father and humorous friend who loved to party, a man who never shied away from lending a helping hand to friends in need at any time and the other full of criminal activities has come as a shock to many.
“The other image is the opposite. A darker shade of the man. We believe he was one of the key leaders of a brutal, well-organized kidnapping gang responsible for high caliber disappearances in and around the city. Many people had paid ransom for the release of their kin,” a senior officer aware of the probe is quoted by The Standard.