Tob Cohen, former Philips chief executive in East Africa, has been missing in Kenya since July, where he has lived for decades. For the moment, no trace of him is missing. This is what we know about his disappearance.
Cohen left for Africa in 1987, where he became marketing director and then CEO of Philips Electronics and Philips Group of Companies. He started his own business in Kenya in 1991 with a travel agency specializing in golf trips, which later also organized medical trips to top hospitals abroad. The company became successful: last year it received another prize for best golf travel organizer in Africa.
In addition to financial success, the company also brought him his second wife: his personal assistant Sarah Wairimu Kamotho. They married in 2018 and went to live on a walled estate in an exclusive suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Thanks to his marriage to a Kenyan, he was allowed to live in the country.
Cohen disappeared on July 19
Cohen's sister, who lives in the Netherlands, called her brother every day. When she heard nothing from him, she went to the police in Amsterdam and reported a loss. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in the Dutch embassy in Kenya, which contacted Cohen's wife.
A Cohen lawyer states that Kamotho stated that her husband had gone to Thailand for three weeks to "get urgent medical help". That story soon proved unbelievable: Kenyan customs have no indications that Cohen has left the country, and two days after her husband's disappearance, Kamotho appears to have reported it to the Kenyan police.
The Kenyan authorities say that Cohen's mobile phone received another call on July 20. The aircraft was at that time in Parkland, another suburb of Nairobi. After that, the phone no longer became active.
Marriage between Cohen and Kamotho was poor
The contradictory statements and actions of Kamotho drew attention to the marriage of her and Cohen. According to, among others, the sister of the former Philips CEO, the relationship had reached a low point. The two were embroiled in bitter combat.
At the beginning of this year, Cohen was injured by a fall. He told his sister that his wife had pushed him. That was the reason why he had called her every day from then on, urging her. Cohen reported the abuse to his wife, she did the same to him.
A golf friend from Cohen told the AD that Kamotho had become co-owner of Cohen's self-built villa through fraud. Cohen would have instituted proceedings against this, which was still ongoing when he disappeared. Kamotho would also have tried to have a hotel built in her home town behind her husband's back. Cohen discovered that, his sister says.
The tensions between the two spouses are said to have reached a boiling point when Kenya Cohen granted citizenship. Kamotho allegedly objected in writing to the Kenyan government.
Just before and after Cohen's disappearance, suspicious letters surfaced
Kenyan media report that Kamotho wrote a letter to the Dutch embassy on July 18, claiming that Cohen was depressed and had paranoia attacks that brought him into confrontation with people around him.
On the day that Cohen disappeared, his lawyers also received two letters stating that he wanted to stop his wife's divorce and the case against her for mistreatment. According to the lawyers, the signatures under those letters were clearly forged, one of them told the AD . The Kenyan police are investigating that.
The police questioned Kamotho, who insisted that Cohen himself left their home on the day of his disappearance. For a moment there was hope for camera images, but it flew away when it turned out that the cameras were placed at the gate of the house only two weeks after the disappearance. A source involved in the investigation also told the AD that Kamotho slept with a friend the night before Cohen's disappearance and only came home when he was supposed to have left.
Kamotho came up with a new story in an interview with a Kenyan news channel. She claims that Cohen may have boarded a 'bad' taxi on July 19 after his departure from their home. She would have regularly warned him to hire a reliable permanent driver.
Kamotho further described her husband as a capricious, occasionally violent man, who smoked a lot, drank, used drugs, and approached young men and women for sex. Cohen's sister dismisses those descriptions as nonsense.