In a striking black and white hair-do, Anne Ngirita stuck out like a sore thumb as she was arrested on Monday, May 28 after investigations linked her to the latest National Youth Service (NYS) scandal, christened Season Two by Kenyan scribes.
With her hair swirling in the Naivasha wind, and straddling along her toddler, she struggled to board the police Land Rover, when she was accosted at her home and delivered in court the following day, Tuesday May 29.
The Ksh8 billion NYS scandal thrust Ms Ngirita into the national limelight but those who know her say, she has been been living large; a palatial home, an assortment of high-end vehicles that had left tongues wagging in the area. Her neighbours describe her financial metamorphosis from abject poverty to a life of opulence in a span of 15 years as remarkable, albeit questionable.
Hardship, penury, neediness characterized NYS graft key suspect Anne Ngirita’s life growing up, her neighbours in Naivasha – who have kept up with her life over the years –, say.
Ms Ngirita, hogged media headlines, and is still doing so, after news broke that she allegedly benefited from the jinxed and drama-scarred National Youth Service kitty.
The 30-year-old, who is currently in court over corruption allegations, allegedly received Ksh59 million from the NYS for goods she never supplied, let alone bidding for any tender at the youth body.
-KSH600 PER MONTH HOUSE-
In early 2000s, she – together with her family – was financially deprived, humble and downhearted, her neighbours reveal. Fifteen years later, Ms Ngirita’s life has changed dramatically albeit controversially.
From occupying a single-roomed house in Mirera, Naivasha whose monthly rent played in the range of Ksh300 to Ksh600 to now living large in a palatial homestead, Ms Ngirita’s transition from the brink of squalor to a lavish lifestyle in less than two decades has all the ingredients of a thrilling plot for a television series, her neighbours claim.
“Their financial troubles, I would say, were among the worst [in Naivasha]. I don’t think those who claim to be poor are as poor as the Ngiriitas were. She’d report to school looking pale; her uniform wasn’t always neat,” said Ms Ngirita’s former classmate at Naivasha DEB Primary School. He declined to be named, saying Ms Ngirita was “quiet, reserved and introverted”.
Ms Ngirita’s mother, Lucy Wambui Ngirita, sold cereals and ran a posho mill in Mirera to make ends meet as she struggled to provide for her family of seven.
Ms Ngirita sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2003; and has three brothers and three sisters. According to her neighbours, she is the wealthiest of her siblings.
“She and her family relocated from the lowly Mirera setting to the high-end Lakeview Estate, without settling in a middle class environment,” said another neighbor, who also refused to be named.
“Her elder sister was married to a German national. The Ngirita family’s life, I would say, started changing for the better immediately thereafter. Anne’s skin tone improved in texture. Her other sister was also married by a man of Caucasian origin. I do not know how the Ngiritas got NYS ties,” said the neighbour, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Ms Ngiriita reportedly left for Germany under the alibi that she was fleeing genital mutilation in Kenya according to a German publication, only to return to the country a few years later – a changed woman, wealthy and classy .
“After returning to Kenya, she went into an undisclosed business. She, initially, was seen using taxis in her up-and-down movements, before buying several high-end cars,” another neighbor recounted to EDAILY.
“Initially, I thought God had blessed them in a big way, hence the change in their lifestyle,” said another neighbour, who also sought anonymity.
A Naivsha taxi operator, who often carried members of the Ngirita family, says allegations linking Ms Ngirita to the NYS scandal have left him stunned.
“I have been shocked,” he said, adding: “I would carry them as I would any other person. Not even once did I suspect they were engaging in shady business.”
“Only recently I realized her family was acquiring new expensive cars by the day. We had no means of scrutinizing their source of wealth. I thought it was a normal upward life trajectory for them,” said the taxi operator.
“We were meant to believe that she was a top goods supplier at NYS; that is what the rumor mills in Naivasha fed us,” added the taxi driver, who has lived in Naivasha for nearly 15 years.
“The seven-plus family members lived in a small county council house in Naivasha.”
Another neighbour, who has known the Ngiritas, when Anne was only 12-years-old, says a big house; big money dream was far-fetched for them, back in the day.
“I have lived in Naivasha since 2000. The house they were living in attracted a monthly rent of between Ksh300 to Ksh600. Recently, she (Anne) acquired a parcel of land from a local pastor. It allegedly went for Ksh80 million. A few days later, she bought a lorry, a Toyota Hillux pick up and a Toyota Landcruiser V8,” said the neighbor.
“I was shocked by her overnight financial trajectory. She erected flats a few days later. She is currently building more than five flats in Naivasha and has more than six plots.”
EDAILY could not independently verify the source’s assertions.
The neighbour adds Ms Ngirita, before big-money ventures, sold fruits in Mirera.
“She was a small-scale watermelon vendor. Her financial success remained a puzzle to us until recently, when she was linked with the NYS scandal. Things started becoming clearer,” said the neighbour.
“Two years have not ended since she started acquiring high-end vehicles. Her driver was my friend. And her driver did not know where her boss had gotten all that money,” he said.
Neighbours paint a picture of a revolutionary ten-year period, which changed the fortunes of the Ngiritas.
“Ngiriita’s family posho mill business is not operational currently,” a spot-check by EDAILY on Tuesday, May 29 showed.
Ngirita’s family members, including herself, were arrested on Monday, May 28 at their Lakeview Estate mansion and arraigned in court on Tuesday, May 29 in connection with the NYS missing billions.
Milimani Lawcourts ruled Tuesday night that the Ngiritas will remain locked up until June 5, when their request to be freed on cash bail will be ruled on.
Ms Ngirita was locked up alongside her mother, brother and sister.
Her remarkable journey from rags to riches under unclear circumstances is a telling feature that investigators will pore over to determine whether there were any linkages with the pilfered NYS funds.
Others, who will remain behind bars until June 5 over the NYS money theft charges, are public service PS Lillian Omollo and NYS director general Richard Ndubai, among others.
Fifty four suspects have, thus far, been linked to theft of Ksh8 billion allegedly lost at the youth body.
Twenty two suspects appeared in court on Monday over the NYS money theft suspicion, the plot thickens.