NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.
The murder of Ruiru flume gateman Ahmed Bbai at the flumes took place in mid-February, 1920. For the next week, the Nairobi newspapers reported on the crime, the evidence, and the eventual arrests; first of Mr. Moorag and Mr. Kulu Khanzi. Stains like blood had been found on their pants, turbans, on a knife, and on the door of their room. Dr. A. C. Birch, Government Analyst reported on the blood stains coats and on the iron bar thought to be the murder weapon. He “had no doubt that the stains on both articles were blood stains which he could only say were ‘recent’.” He could not say what kind of blood caused the stain.
Shortly afterwards, another flume employee, Mr. Sabban Mooraj told the police that a Goan named Mr. Marishu Desa as the murderer. Mr. Desa had recently been promoted to flume switchboard operator. The March 20, 1920 issue of The Leader of British East Africa reported on the inquest in which a tale emerged of two men (accused and deceased) who did not like each other. Mooraj claimed he witnessed a fight between them on the night of the murder. He said that Desa had told him to shut the water to one of the gates (the crime scene) and that soon afterwards, the victim came up to see what was the matter. Mooraj said that Desa told him not to tell anyone or he (Mooraj) would be killed next. The case was remitted to the High Court. Then nothing more was said about the topic until May 22, 1920 when the papers covered the trial.
As Judge Sheridan presided, testimony was given by sub assistant surgeon Sukram Das who examined the deceased, by European Constable Ridgeway who had examined the crime scene, and by Mr. Holmes, resident engineer in charge of the electric plant at Ruiru. Constables spoke of finding a blood stained knife in a sugar canister only to learn that the stain was vegetable in nature and it didn’t matter much since the knife wasn’t the murder weapon to begin with. The bloody door to Mooraj’s apartment seemed to be splashed onto the door and was taken to police headquarters for examination. Mooraj claimed it was “placed there by foul play.”
Then, after devoting so much space to this final trial, The Leader ended this story with a very unsatisfying
followed by “In the afternoon the accused was acquitted on the finding of the magistrate and assessors that the evidence of Mooraj was not to be trusted. Owing to the exceptional pressure upon our space, we were unable to publish the remainder of the evidence.”
Nothing more ever appeared in the papers regarding this murder.
ALL IMAGES SHOWN HERE ARE CREDITED TO THE LEADER OF BRITISH EAST AFRICA
NEXT WEEK: A brief discussion of 1920 forensics
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com
Labels: 1920, bloodstains, electricity, Goan, Hindu, Jade del Cameron, murder, Nairobi, Ruiru flumes, The Leader of British East Africa, The Leopard's Prey, trial