British troops summarily execute tortured Mau Mau suspect

19 June 1953

[ Please note: this article is very similar to one posted for 14 June 1953 relating to the same two suspects ]

On 13 June 1953, Captain Gerald S.L. Griffiths led a company of British soldiers into the Chuka region of Kenya to flush out Kenyan Mau Mau rebels hiding in the forests.  Two Mau Mau suspects, Njeru Ndwega and Kvenji Njoka, were handed over by local police and were interrogated the next day.   When they proved unable or unwilling to inform on their comrades location, Griffiths ordered that one of Njoka’s ears be bayoneted and then threaded with a leash while Ndwega, after being threatened with castration, had his left ear amputated. Ndwega, who was still refusing to cooperate, was then ordered to run away and was immediately shot dead.  Meanwhile Njoka was led through the forest tethered by his ear, until the soldiers returned to camp five days later on 19 June when he was summarily executed and his body abandoned without even any attempt at burial.1

Griffiths later explained in court that Njoka had been shot while attempting to escape and while he had not ordered his ear to be bayonetted, once it had been done he felt it was “proper” for a suspect Mau Mau prisoner to be led on a leash through the forest threaded through his ear. “It would not cause pain,” he argued, explaining that “these men have holes made in their ears when they are very young.”  He also insisted that he had only ever ordered a soldier to threaten Ndwega with castration, after his pants had been pulled down, but argued that a mere threat caused the prisoner “no harm”, and that the soldier had amputated the prisoner’s ear so quickly that he couldn’t stop it.2

Griffiths had been acquitted of murder in an earlier trial due to the supposedly insufficient evidence but he was found guilty on four charges of what the press termed “cruelty to Africans” and sentenced to five years imprisonment.(3)  His Defence Counsel had argued for mitigating circumstances, alleging that some time earlier his beloved horse had been brutally treated by Mau Mau rebels.3


  1. David Anderson, “A Very British Massacre,” History Today – ahttps://historyslc.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/a-very-british-massacre.pdf and also http://allafrica.com/stories/200607170327.html
  2. “3 Witnesses Lied Says Griffiths,” The Daily Herald, 11 March 1954 p. 2
  3. “Cruelty To Africans,” The Aberdeen Evening Express,  11 March 1954, p. 16 and “British Captain Gets Five Years For Cruelty To Mau Mau,” Jet, The Weekly Negro News Magazine“, 25 March 1954, p. 12

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