How Thika Banana Hawking Dad Deceived Kenyans Into Believing His Wife Is Dead
A woman claiming to be the wife of the ‘Thika Widower’ who touched the heart of Kenyans including the President, has come out, claiming she’s not dead as her alleged husband had claimed. (Read: Meet Daniel Ngugi, the dad on the beat)
Jackline Kendi (and not Medline Chebet as Ngugi had earlier claimed, is allegedly the name of his ‘deceased’ wife). She claims to be the wife of Daniel Ngugi, the hawker who Kenyans saw selling bananas with his ‘ailing’ daughter strapped on his back.
His story, featured on K24 television and The People Daily, was heart-wrenching.
Kiambu sports minister, Machel Waikenda, offered Ngugi a shop stocked with goods worth Sh50,000, courtesy of Kiambu Governor, William Kabogo, who also paid a year’s rent for the shop.
State House Director, Digital and Diaspora Affairs, Dennis Itumbi, gave out Sh120,000 from Team Uhuru.
Daniel had claimed his wife had died on April 22, 2013, in an accident at Salgaa along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, that also claimed eight of his relatives.
Before his wife ‘died,’ he said, he ran a shop in Kisumu, while his wife operated a similar business in Nakuru, both of which were thriving. ‘Sadly’, he had to sell off the shops to meet funeral expenses for his wife and eight relatives.
Now, a single father of three, Ngugi would wake up early, prepare his twins for school before strapping his five-month-old daughter on his back to go sell bananas in Thika town.
The story went viral
Kenyans living abroad also set up an Equity Bank account into which they channelled contributions to help Ngugi and fell over themselves to help the ‘poor kids’.
But after weeks of investigations, The Nairobian has discovered the other side of the story.
Jackline Kendi, his ‘wife’ says Michael and Jane Ngugi, the two children Ngugi claims are twins, were born a year apart.
The Nakuru hospital, where Ngugi claimed his wife Kendi succumbed to injuries, says no woman named Medline Chebet died at the facility between April 2013 and April 2014.
Jackline Kendi, 25, is from Chogoria. She says she married Ngugi in 2009.
“I had just finished high school when I met Ngugi. In three months, we were living together as man and wife. That December, we had our first born,” says Kendi.
Not so rosy ‘marriage’
“But he used to beat me a lot. If broke a plate when washing dishes, he would land on me with slaps and kicks. I also realised he lie about things that weren’t even important.
“There is a day he said he was going for his aunt’s funeral. I was then pregnant with my first born so I didn’t attend the funeral,” she says.
After she delivered, she says she apologised to Ngugi’s mother for not attending the funeral. But her shocked mum-in-law said no one had died.
“When I confronted Ngugi, he beat me for ‘stressing’ his mother,” says Kendi.
She says she fled the marriage in 2013, leaving her two kids behind, when she could no longer bear the beatings. Kendi said she was first made aware of her ‘death’ when Ngugi appeared on a Julie Gichuru television show.
“I called Ngugi and asked him why he was ‘killing me’, but he threatened me. The fact that my children think I am dead is very disturbing. I cannot be part of his conspiracy to defraud Kenyans,” she says. “He can continue making money, but I just want him to stop lying that I am dead.”
Bishop Thomas Wahome of Helicopter of Christ Church, from whom she allegedly sought help, says: “I have tried to get Ngugi to stop saying Kendi is dead but he says we can’t stop him from earning a living the way he is used to. This man is dangerous, and should be stopped.”
Kendi added that while at Bishop Wahome’s office, she had spoken with Ngugi on phone and he (Ngugi) offered to share the money he had been raising, with her. “When I refused he told me “Wewe ni mjinga sana’,” said Kendi.
John Gikandi, the chief of Karia Location, in Chogoria, says he knew that Ngugi was married to Kendi and the relationship was troubled.
“Eventually when they couldn’t stay together, the woman escaped with one child. I directed her to return the child to Ngugi because he had threatened to commit suicide. I was also shocked to hear Ngugi say that Kendi is dead. I even saw her last week, she isn’t dead,” narrated the chief.
When reached for comments, Ngugi hung up the phone, and subsequent calls went unanswered. He later called, and said he wanted to “set the record straight” in our offices.