More than 29 years since it occurred Injenis family still living in big shock
Written by John Kabaka
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Corporal Bramwel Injeni Njereman bottom left [Photos/ John Kabaka/File]
On November 24, 1982, Corporal Bramwel Injeni Njereman, an armaments technician with the Kenya Air Force, became the first Kenyan to be convicted of treason for trying to overthrow the Government of Kenya.
When I visited the family, sadness still engulfs the entire home with everyone wondering what happened.
“We read it in papers both local and international, we heard it over the radio that our very own was killed but we are still wondering why did it happen and who did it, we base the same on rumours because we are not very well informed about the whole saga,” said Reuben Njereman a brother to the Bramwel Injeni Njereman.
“I am not so sure because if I was, I would have shown you the grave where my brother was buried but it’s is nowhere in this compound,” he added as the face changed of emotions.
The group photo of some of the airforce staff, sitting bottom left is Bramwel Injeni Njeremani.
According to judgement passed by a court martial sitting at the Kenya Army’s Langata Barracks, Njereman was found guilty of five overt acts during the attempted coup of August 1, 1982.
Among these acts was “forcing Major David Mutua to fly an F/5 aircraft on a bombing mission to Nairobi and accompanying him at gunpoint.” He was sentenced to death by hanging.
About a month later — on December 16, 1982 — Cpl Walter Odira Ojode became the second Kenyan to be found guilty of the same offence by the same court.
According to the presiding judge, he “locked up servicemen and officers and ordered Major David Mutua and Capt John Mugwanja to fly F/5 jets to bomb some targets in Nairobi.” He, too, earned the death penalty.
Both servicemen appealed and lost their cases. Along with coup leader Hezekiah Ochuka and principal conspirator Pancras Oteyo Okumu, they were executed on the night of July 10, 1985 at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
The executions were carried out by Michael Wanjuki Kirugumi, a career hangman with dozens of hangings to his name in the colonial-era facility.
To date, they remain the last people to be lawfully killed by the Government of Kenya.
Who was Major David Mutua? Who was Capt John Mugwanja? And who was Capt John Baraza, the third pilot not mentioned in the aforementioned judgements.
They were fighter pilots skilled in flying — in the case of Mutua and Mugwanja — the most potent warplane in the Kenya Air Force inventory, the F/5 Tiger.
On the bright Sunday morning of August 1, 1982, they flew a mission of hitherto scant detail to Nairobi that could have changed the course of Kenya’s history forever.
As the three pilots relaxed at home with their families, rebel servicemen at Laikipia Air Base, known then as KAF Nanyuki Station, serviced and armed three jet fighters. Mutua’s two-seat F/5F Tiger was loaded with 500lb bombs and Baraza’s Strikemaster with high explosive antitank rockets. Though not carrying bombs, the guns of Mugwanja’s single seat F/5E Tiger were loaded.
The pilots were rounded up from their residences and at gunpoint, Cpl Njereman ordered them to suit up and get into their cockpits. The mission — to bomb State House Nairobi and the General Service Unit headquarters, also in Nairobi. He took the back seat of Mutua’s plane to enforce the order.
This was to be the three pilots’ last mission and military and political scholars can argue indeterminably about what Kenya would have become had they done what their captors ordered them to do.
A former air force pilot familiar with the events of that day indicated “The pilots went through all the motions of obeying their captors’ instructions without any intention of carrying out the decisive order. They bid their time knowing a simple thing — they were abductees on the ground but in charge in the air. Njereman had never flown in a jet before, much less a high performance one like the F/5. Mutua decided to teach him a lesson.”
Bramwel injeni njereman was born in 1955 from a Christian family in Kisasi village of Hamisi constituency.
He went to various primary schools in the region reason being his dad was a salvation army major.
He was the seventh in a family of eleven of which 5 of the family members are deceased. He was circumcised in 1964 and went through the normal Tiriki culture.
He did his CPE at Khwisero primary school and was admitted at Kolanya boys high school for his four year course among his school mates is the Kenya postal corporation director major Hussein Ali.
After form four Njereman went for an airforce interview where he succeeded and was recruited to join Kenya Airforce as a trainee.
He went in at a lower rank and served as an ordinary soldier and till 1982 he was at the corporal rank in the Kenya airforce.
His brother Reuben recalls well that in August 1982 he had planned to visit his brother in Nanyuki but found all vehicles heading booked something that made him change his mind and headed to his young family that was staying in Kericho by then.
“I one time imagined what would have happened to me if I had went to Nanyuki, sometimes I thank God and calls it a miracle,” he said in a very low tone.
In the morning of the following day, Reuben recalls very well what happened when he heard over the radio that, Kila polisi akae kama raia, let every police become a civilian.
“I thought I was dreaming woke up and listened again but the message was the same and indeed there was tension in the nation of coup attempt that’s how I came to learn,” said Reuben.
He says during the whole period they knew nothing till everything cooled down. He recalls that after calm returned they were surprised that his brother was locked in.
At one point we heard that my brother had been arrested first locked in the Naivasha maximum prison and then later taken to Kamiti prisons.
Before the case hearing commenced Reuben says the family used to visit him at the Kamiti prison that was the year 1983.
Sombre mood engulfed in the family the very year when the Njereman family lost another son who was abroad studying mechanical engineering-plant option.
It still remains a mystery for this family and Reuben recalls when his second born brother was brought home from France dead and the family was not allowed to view the whole body. His name was Ibrahim Njereman.
“It still remain a mystery, we miss him but there is nothing we can do, he was a young man who was very dedicated and saved but since the family was of the pastors the matter was not followed much since my dad decided to leave it to God, we have not solved the problem but it so bad we just accepted the pain,” regrets Reuben.
Injeni remained in the cells till the hearings started and Reuben remembers well that they were locked out. Infact up to date they are still wondering what happened to him.
He says to date they have no clear information on what transpired but just move with what he calls rumours and what was in the Media that his brother was hanged.
According to history most of the airforce staff who are said to be hanged had not married, though to others they had not married yes but had children.
Bramwel Njereman Injeni had two children who when the unfortunate thing happened they were still toddlers and never even saw their dad.
Njereman’s son Ronnie Njereman works in Afghanistan as a mechanical engineer, he always comes in the nation but his uncle Reuben says he is always disturbed when the story is told to him.
Njereman’s son Ronnie Njereman
“Ronnie was still very young when his dad passed on though he is always disturbed when he learns of what might have happened,” said Reuben Njereman his uncle.
Not only Ronnie, Njereman has a daughter as well fron a different mother called Anne Minyika who the family says she is married to a Congolese man but they stay in the capital.
The family of Njereman now wants the government to put the matter in light on what happened indeed.
They urge the government to tell them what exactly happened, why and how, which Reuben at one point doubts can happen, but insist if what was in the papers happened, they should just be taken to the grave where they were buried pray and continue with the community’s culture.
“You know in our community we cannot do anything about the dead before we know exactly what happened though we have ceremonies and traditions we do when we find out what happened exactly and we are convinced, so i urged the government of which Injeni used to work for if it can to reveal to us what occurred.,” said Reuben with a kind face as if talking to the government itself.
The family still maintains its like rumours that Injeni was killed or rather hanged because they have no clear information.
“Rumours have it that they were finished by being shot as a group and buried as a group but as a family we will be glad if we were told what happened so that we do what we can do on our side,” he said.
But they live in high hopes that one day they will know what happened with the new constitution.
“We were and we are living in suspense but in this world of suspicion we don’t know where to start from and you just end up remaining silent,” this is the last statement that came fron Reuben as we ended our interview.
And he asked this, “If he was killed, who did it, where was he buried, if he was buried where was the memorial service, when joining any force your national ID card is taken why don’t we be given it, the son and the daughter might need in matters of various applications, inheritance and many more, but who is to answer all this questions, only God Knows he winds up with his left hand on his forehead.”