IN SHORT: Human Rights Watch didn’t release a statement saying the bizarre and tragic killing of National Hospital Insurance Fund staffer Lilian Waithera was because she was a whistleblower in a fraud case against former NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi. The document is fake.
On 13 February 2023, Lilian Waithera was heading home from her job at Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) when she collapsed and died on a street in the capital of Nairobi.
A postmortem report revealed that she had a bullet lodged in her lungs. It had been fired through her collarbone from an elevated angle, a high building later reportedly identified as the Jubilee Insurance Centre.
Two days after her death, a document with the logo of Human Rights Watch, a global human rights organisation, went viral on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s headlined: “MEMO ON THE ASSASINATION OF MS LILLIAN WAITHERA, NHIF STAFF”. The document, dated 15 February, claims she was targeted for being a whistleblower in a fraud case involving former NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi.
“Human Rights Watch group has received damning reports of the assassination of Ms Lillian Waithera, 46, who was a staff at the NHIF headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, 13th February 2023,” it reads.
“Our preliminary investigations have since established that Ms Waithera was a whistleblower in a KSh 1 billion fraud case that implicated Mr. Geoffrey Mwangi, NHIF's former CEO.”
The document says the organisation is “convinced that Mr. Mwangi has had a hand in the execution and subsequent murder of Ms Lillian Waithera”. It adds that Human Rights Watch will officially lodge a complaint with Kenya’s public prosecutions office to ensure her family gets justice.
Mwangi was appointed as acting NHIF chief executive in February 2016. He left office in 2018 after facing graft charges. The charges have since been dropped.
But is the viral document legit? We checked.
‘We are investigating this impersonation’
On 16 February, Human Rights Watch took to its verified Twitter account to dismiss the document as fake.
A letter purportedly signed by our staffer concerning the death of Kenyan health worker Lilian Waithera is a fake. We are investigating this impersonation.— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) February 16, 2023
“A letter purportedly signed by our staffer concerning the death of Kenyan health worker Lilian Waithera is a fake. We are investigating this impersonation,” the tweet reads.
The NHIF has also posted a statement on Twitter, warning the public against speculating on the death. It says the relevant authorities should be allowed to investigate the matter.
It adds that Mwangi is not the NHIF’s current chief executive, as the document claims.
The document is fake.
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