In January 2021, university student Lawrence Warunge allegedly murdered four members of his family and a farmhand at their home in Kiambu, later revealing that he was inspired by Villanelle, Jodie Comer’s unhinged assassin in the British spy thriller Killing Eve.
This tragic event, which shook the nation and made headlines for weeks, inspired this week’s episode of Crime and Justice, “Slaughterhouse”, now streaming on Showmax. Since season 1, Crime and Justice has tackled crimes that, even though fictional, have reminded us of real-life cases, and “Slaughterhouse”, the fourth episode, is the latest addition into the show’s ripped-from-the-headlines storylines.
The episode follows detectives Makena (Sarah Hassan) and Silas (Alfred Munyua) as they investigate a violent crime where three family members are found murdered in their home. With no motive, no murder weapon and a recluse teenager who survives the incident, Silas and Makena must determine what really happened.“Slaughterhouse” is written by Voline Ogutu, one of the new writers who joined the second season alongside Damaris Irungu.
Of all the three episodes she’s penned in the new season, including the premiere episode, “The Death Squad”, Voline reveals that she enjoyed writing “Slaughterhouse” because of its different format. “The killer was already known. The detectives just had to figure out his motive,” she says.
Voline’s work includes Kalasha winner and Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nominee 40 Sticks, Kalasha winner Njoro wa Uba and Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice (AMVCAs) nominee How to Find a Husband.
On writing her first police procedural with Crime and Justice, Voline admits that the rules and pace can be different but, ultimately, it all comes down to the story. “The story and the writer’s vision dictate the pace,” she says. “A thriller can have a slow pace, just like a dramedy story like Njoro wa Uba would have. The rules of storytelling can be applied to any genre.”
For this episode, she tapped into her love for horror stories, and three drafts later, she delivered what director Tosh Gitonga (Nairobi Half Life), who makes his Crime and Justice debut with “Slaughterhouse”, describes as a “super interesting script.” “Episode 4 tackles an unfathomable subject, but we know for a fact that it can happen,” Tosh says.
The challenge for Tosh, whose most recent film project, Disconnect, is a feel-good rom-com, was to capture the darkness that “Slaughterhouse” calls for. “I worried that I wouldn’t find the right temperament, and the right state that Tim (the teenage suspect) should be in after committing such a heinous crime,” he says.
Tosh praises his young cast, made up of newcomers like Lewis Leshan, Kendi Kinyua, Jones Njoroge, Collins Kamau Ngugi and Victor Kibe. “I really enjoyed working with the young upcoming cast. The future is bright for our industry.” Catch Crime and Justice Episode 4 “Slaughterhouse”, now streaming on Showmax, with new episodes every Monday.