A court in Nyeri has awarded a former KDF soldier who is accused of killing his estranged wife and two children Sh2 million in damages for unlawful sacking from the Kenya Defence Forces.
Peter Mugure is accused of killing Joyce Syombua Maua, 31, and her children Shanice Mugure Mwaura, alias Shanice Maua, 10, and Peter Mwaura Junior, alias Prince Michael, 5.
He is alleged to have committed the heinous crime jointly with others on October 26, 2019, at Laikipia Airbase in Nanyuki town.
The court agreed with Mugure's argument that KDF violated his right to fair administrative action by dismissing him from the force despite him having submitted a resignation letter.
Justice Onesmus Makau of the Labour Relations Court in Nyeri delivered the ruling virtually on July 31, 2023.
"Consequently, I enter judgment for the petitioner in the following terms (and) order that the claimant is entitled to payment of terminal benefits including pension in accordance with the applicable law and regulations.
The judge awarded Mugure Sh2 million for the procedural violation and costs of the suit and interest.
"The respondent compensates the petitioner for the work injuries suffered during his service pursuant to the applicable KDF Act and regulations," the judge ruled.
Justice Makau said Mugure's termination from KDF was unlawful as it flouted Article 47 of the Constitution as provided under the KDF Act.
The law provides that every person has the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.
Mugure had sought to resign and be paid his benefits after a disciplinary hearing in November 2019 found him guilty.
He was found to have violated the KDF Act, 2012 by entertaining her wife, children and guests at the airbase residential section without permission.
He was, however, summoned and summarily dismissed by the Base Commander hours before he was arrested over the three murders.
"The failure by the KDF Council to respond to the resignation letter within 14 days as required under Section 249(8) of the KDF Act and instead issuing a letter of termination was unlawful."
The judge dismissed KDF's defence that the officer was laid off after disciplinary proceedings and had therefore been accorded a fair hearing.
"I have keenly considered the evidence on record and it's clear that the petitioner wrote a resignation letter even before he was charged before his Base Commander for summary trial.
"The base commander endorsed in his award that the petitioner had written the resignation with a request for payment of service benefits but the Base Commander recommended for termination of the petitioner's commission."
The judge observed that the summary disciplinary action of the former soldier met the statutory and constitutional threshold but his termination did not.
Autopsy results conducted on Mugure’s spouse and her two children on November 20, 2019 indicated that Syombua, 31, was hit with a blunt object while her children were strangled using a rope.
Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor, however, said it was difficult to tell when they were exactly killed.
The three bodies were exhumed from a shallow grave at the Makaburini area in Nanyuki Town on November 17, 2019.
The murders came in the wake of a protracted child support case which was ruled in Syombua's favour.
Mugure had allegedly denied siring the children with her saying he was therefore not responsible for their upkeep.
But DNA test results confirmed the former army man as the biological father of the two children and consequently ordered him to pay Sh75,000 monthly for the children's upkeep.
Mugure is currently being held at the King'ong'o Maximum Prison in Nyeri awaiting the conclusion of the murder case.