‘I don’t want to recall my Julie Ward trial’


In the sleepy Transmara West’s Oloibor Soito village - tucked between the Shartuka hills that form part of the larger Emurua Dikirr Constituency - Simon Makala’s sunset years are spent herding his cows.

Ever since he was thrown into international limelight over the death of a missing British tourist, Julie Ward, the former Maasai Mara Game Reserve warden has opted for a lone life with his two wives.

Like a typical Maasai elder, Mr Makala’s stretched earlobes are noticeable. A thick maize plantation surrounds Mr Makala’s home – an indicator of his farming prowess.

Despite his age, the 76 year old ex-warden looks strong – and would rather forget the trial he went through when he was implicated in Julie Ward’s murder.

“I do not want to be engaged through the media to open old wounds, give me my time to retire slowly and I don’t want to be dragged back into my past,” he told the Nation. 

Ms Ward- a publishing assistant and amateur wildlife photographer from Bury St Edmunds in England was on a safari in the Masai Mara game reserve with her Australian friend, Dr Glen Burns when the vehicle they were driving, a Suzuki jeep, broke down. After Dr Burns returned to Nairobi, Ms Ward spent the night alone at the Mara Serena lodge.

Charged with murder

On September 6, after the vehicle was repaired, Ms Ward left to drive to the nearby Sand River camp to recover some camping equipment, but she never returned to the camp. 

A week later, her burned and dismembered body was found in the ashes of a fire by her father John Ward who had fled into the country to search for his missing daughter. 

Mr Makala  was arrested years later, charged with murder and acquitted by the High Court in Nairobi on September 17, in 1999. Two other game warders were charged and released as well. 

While Jonathan Toroitich, President Moi’s eldest son was implicated in the murder he produced an alibi and told the media, “I am totally shocked to hear this. I had no relationship with the said lady (Julie) and I even didn't know her. I never did such a thing and it has never crossed my mind to do it.”

When the Nation visited the home of Makala, he declined interviews, saying he would rather not remember anything to do with the case that shook the world. 

Humble man

“Memories of what he went through pains him very much. He lost his job, he lost his pension despite being innocent and the perils he went through pains him much,” says his brother Alex Makala.

A father of 15, Mr Makala spends his time with his two wives and has over 1,000 cows in his farm.
Another friend and neighbour, Mr Davis Tall, describes Mr Makala as a quiet and humble man. 

“He has detached himself with what happened, and he has requested to be allowed to live his silent life,” said Mr Tall.

Julie Ward’s father, John Ward, who is still on a quest for justice, says that nothing has come out of the investigations, yet since the killer has never been charged.

During the investigation, Mr Ward complained of cover-up and attempts by government officials to falsify records.

Several witnesses in the murder, including Valentine Ohuru Kodipo, a key witness of the murder, have died. Mr Kodipo died in Denmark where he was seeking asylum. 
Chronology of events

February 1988 – Julie, 28, leaves home in Suffolk for seven-month trip

7 September 1988 – She disappears from her campsite at the Masai Mara game reserve

13 September 1988 – Her charred and mutilated remains are found at Makari area in the Maasai Mara. Kenyan authorities initially insist she had either committed suicide or been killed by wild animals.

January 1989 – Kenyan police refuse to conduct a murder inquiry. Julie’s father begins his own investigation.

October 1989 – Kenyan court rules that Julie was murdered.

February 1990 – Mr Ward persuades UK Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd to order an investigation by Scotland Yard. Detectives fly to Kenya.

January 1992 – Two rangers from the Masai Mara reserve go on trial for Julie’s murder.

June 1992 – The pair are acquitted, and the trial judge declares there has been a cover-up to protect Kenya’s expanding tourist industry.

November 1993 – Focus switches to claims that Julie was murdered for political reasons after stumbling across a smuggling operation.

1996 – The man behind the claims is discredited.

1997 – Kenya provides a team of independent police officers to mount a fresh inquiry into Julie’s death as her father keeps up his high-profile campaign to find her killers.

July 1998 – Gamekeeper Simon Ole Makallah is charged with her murder.

1 March 1999 – Makallah goes on trial in Nairobi.

17 September 1999 – Judge clears Makallah of murder. After the acquittal, Mr Ward demands a retrial, but his plea goes unanswered.

November 2001 – Police Complaints Authority agrees to supervise an investigation by another force of the original Scotland Yard inquiry.

2 March 2004 – Greater Suffolk coroner Peter Dean announces he will resume an inquest into Julie’s death, 16 years after it was opened.

26 April 2004 – The long-awaited inquest takes place in Ipswich.

6 Sept 2008 – Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, wrote an independent report on behalf of Lincolnshire Police, said of the role of the FCO and the British High Commission: “There is clear evidence of inconsistency and contradictions, falsehoods and downright lies, and it is this that has not surprisingly led to John Ward believing that there was an active conspiracy to prevent him from identifying his daughter’s killers.”     BY DAILY NATION  

No comments