Edwin Chiloba: Long-time friend of ‘iconic’ Kenyan LGBTQ+ activist to be charged with his murder

Edwin Chiloba

A long-time friend of slain Kenyan LGBTQ+ activist Edwin Chiloba will be charged with his horrific murder, which saw his eyes gouged out and body dumped on a roadside. 

Five suspects had previously appeared in court accused of the murder of Chiloba, with his long-time friend Jackton Odhiambo being described as the main suspect. 

On Tuesday (31 January), state counsel Anthony Fedha told the court: “Following our investigation we have established that four of the suspects are not linked to the murder. 

“However, the first suspect, Jacktone Odhiambo, will be charged with murder,” Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation reported.

The body of Chiloba, whose full name was Edwin Kiprotich Kipruto, was found on Wednesday (4 January) in a metal box on a roadside in western Kenya. 

Preliminary investigations have shown his eyes had been gouged out and, according to Nation, he died from strangulation before he was dumped. 

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Chiloba was laid to rest on 17 January at his parents’ home in Sergoit, Kenya. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony to pay homage to the 25-year-old whose life was taken from him.

Tributes from friends and family described Edwin Chiloba as “an amazing human” and an “iconic fashion designer”.

Gaudensia Tanui, cousin of Chiloba, said: “Our child has been murdered, we only want justice and nothing more, and kindly let his soul rest in peace.”

As a model and designer, Chiloba made a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya, and frequently spoke against the discriminatory laws in place there.

‘Another soul lost due to hate’

The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya described him as “another soul lost due to hate”.

“Words cannot even explain how we as a community are feeling right now. You will be missed,” the coalition added.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission also paid tribute, saying: “Edwin was a loved and valued member of his community who used the platforms available to him to fight for what was right.

“Edwin’s death reminds us that queer bodies continue to be under attack all over the country.”

Under British colonial-era law, it is illegal for men to engage in gay sex in Kenya under the Penal Code 1930. Those found guilty of the act can face up to 14 years in prison. 

Several attempts to decriminalise gay sex have failed, and president William Ruto has branded LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya as a “non-issue”.