Cleophas Shimanyula aka Toto,the owner of the Fort Tenan killer bus is a well-known figure in Kakamega.
In a typical case of grass to grace, Shimanyula started off as a tout and car cleaner in the early 1990s.
His father, from whom he takes the name Shimanyula, reportedly assisted him to buy an old saloon car, which he used as a taxi for more than a decade.
From there, he ventured into the matatu business with one vehicle he said he bought using a bank loan.
In previous interviews, he said he did not complete his basic education. He does not shy away from admitting he could never have excelled in the academic world.
“He always had problems with our officers because his vehicles would be involved in traffic offenses,” says a former police commander in the area.
His matatus initially plied between towns in western Kenya before he plunged into long-range transport services nearly a decade ago, under the Homeboyz brand.
He is also feared because of his influence and has on many occasions had brushes with law enforcement agencies.
He also has enviable ties with the region’s political big wigs.
Former Presidential Candidate Cyrus Jirongo hired his fleet of Prados for his campaign and also sought his influence to gather supporters
When Musalia Mudavadi ran for the presidency in 2013, he also leased vehicles from Shimanyalu.
The businessman is reported to enjoy close ties with Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and a host of other Western Kenya politicians as well.
He single-handedly gave financial support to Kakamega Home Boyz Football Club before the County Government intervened.
Shimanyula also runs a cleaning firm, that is contracted by the county government to collect garbage in Kakamega town. It has an estimated workforce of about 500 who mainly comprise youth and women.
Despite his little education, his business acumen has baffled many. Those close to him describe Shimanyula as an industrious man who seizes every opportunity to make a maximum gain.
All his business interests estimated to be worth millions, fall under his Western Cross Express Company Limited.
Shimanyula and a co-director Bernard Shitiabayi were charged in a Molo court on Thursday, October 11 with manslaughter over the death of 56 people in the bus crash at Fort Tenan on Wednesday morning.
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