Kenyatta-era minister and ally Bruce Mackenzie, who was later exposed as a British spy, would later tell the British High Commission that Mbiyu Koinange, one of the racketeers and a close Kenyatta ally, was involved in the murder of JM in 1975.
In August 1975, the London-based Sunday Times exposed the alleged greed of the Kenyatta family in a series of articles that detailed its involvement in ivory exports, and the impossibility of collecting debts owed by the first family. It also detailed how Kenyatta personally approved the purchase of large farms by his family, exempting them from review by land control boards.
According to the Sunday Times Mama Ngina had been buying land at the Coast where she built two hotels, while Mzee Kenyatta built Leopard Beach Hotel for himself, which was registered in a Swiss company’s name.
The newspaper revealed that, in 1972, Mombasa Municipal Council had waived all rates on properties owned by the president and his family, and had listed 11 more properties in the area. The paper also described how the family operated through overseas frontmen such as George Criticos and Asian lawyers and accountants.
The family reportedly had interests in international casinos. In 1967, a company for Italian investors linked to the Mafia established the Nairobi International Casino, with Fred Kubai and later Peter Muigai Kenyatta and James Gichuru as shareholders.
The Sunday Times revealed that while Kenyatta’s name did not appear on the registration papers, he owned the site and the building, and received a third of its profits.
Kenyatta’s niece and current Health Minister Beth Mugo, meanwhile, allegedly became involved in gemstone business and obtained the right to sell gems to foreigners at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Even after JM’s death, poaching went on unabated, motivating the Wilmington Star News March 2, 1977 issue to warn that the world’s last wildlife herds in Kenya were facing extinction.
According to the newspaper, poachers were organised and used bows and poisoned arrows, poisoned darts, muzzle loaders and machine guns while enjoying protection from the highest authority.
In the preceding six months prior to the publication of the story, 235 rhinos and 20 leopards had been killed while the overall elephant population had dwindled from 36,000 to 20,000.
When Ngina and the First family could not cope with the national and international condemnation any more, they issued a five-page statement through the Kenya News Agency to dismiss the poaching allegations.
The lengthy report dismissed as false allegations that Ngina was involved in poaching, terming the accusations as blackmail and scandal, further dismissing the figures of dwindled elephant stocks as “guesswork.”
The devastation occasioned by the poachers in the 1970s is such that some parts of the country like Mutomo in Ukambani have dense forests without a single wild animal, while locals bemoan the loss of their heritage to greedy wheeler dealers.