A Kenyan mother and her two children who perished after their house caught fire under mysterious circumstances in Canberra, Australia, last month were laid to rest on Friday in an emotional sendoff.
The remains of 45-year-old Anne Wachera Muhoro, her son Ezvin (8) and her daughter Furaha (5) were retrieved by firefighters from their house in Bonner on February 19th, after a house fire police say was deliberately lit.
Ezvin and Furaha were fare-welled alongside their mother in a private burial ceremony held at the Norwood Park Crematorium in Gungahlin on Friday morning. The funeral was attended by family and members of the local community.
Ms Muhoro’s estranged husband, who declined to be named, described his two kids as “playful” and “cheerful”, if not a little bit shy.
“Ezvin travelled around the world in 2012. He liked Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He said he always wanted to go back there.”
It [ceremony] was nice but memories are so strong, They will be greatly missed,” he said.
Some of the family members attending the funeral traveled all the way from Kenya.
Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of the three and are waiting for results of autopsy and other tests carried on their remains.
Detectives handling the case have appealed to anyone with information that might help in the investigations to come forward. Police said a camera footage taken from the estate between midnight of Sunday, February 18th and 8.45 am Monday, could be of great help.
Ms Muhoro had been working as a software engineer in Canberra and was set to attend a child custody hearing on the day of her death at the Family Court, but failed to show up.
Her estranged husband had moved to court seeking custody of their children. One suspect was apprehended the day after the fire, but was later released.
In 2011, a man identified as George Munene filed an online petition on a website (change.org) against Ms Muhoro, accusing her of denying him a 50/50 child custody of their son, Ezvin Munene Mugera.
“Custody battles are rife and allegations of domestic violence have been misused (by a few women) to gain an upper hand in custody and property settlement battles,” George said in the brief petition.
He further lamented about losing his AUD0.6 million (Sh47.7 million) house to Ms Anne Wachera Muhoro.
At the Funeral Friday, friends expressed their deep desire for answers to the many questions left in the wake of the tragedy.
Ms Muhoro’s best friend, Edith Miuruka, paid tribute to her as a good Christian and a skilled migrant with an “enviable career” in software engineering.
Ms Miuruka expressed her deep grief and confusion over the death.
“There was no sign that our planned lunch would never be,” she said.
There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the Bonner house fire: police have not identified a cause, nor have they ruled out the three were already dead when the fire was set.
Ms Miuruka said her friend had weathered many “tough seasons” as a migrant in Canberra, but that she had said 2018 would be a good year.
“People may not know the true story … may divine intervention intervene to reveal Anne’s true story,” she said.
Ms Muhoro’s youngest brother, Peter, said when thinking about the deaths of a five-year-old and an eight-year-old, “you ask a lot of questions”.
“But you know, they had a great life, they had a joyous life,” he said.
Community desperate for answers
The unanswered questions also hung heavy in the speeches from community and church leaders.
Godfrey Munthomi, president of the East African Community Association, expressed thanks to emergency services workers who discovered the Kenyan family.
“We are grateful, as you try to unravel what may or may not have happened. No pressure,” he said.
The High Commissioner to Kenya also spoke on behalf of the community, and offered the Kenyan Government’s condolences.
“As a community we learned with great shock … and in circumstances we are struggling to come to terms with,” Isaiah Kabira said.
“In God we trust that one day all shall be revealed to us.”
Chaplain Richard Bevan said as a church leader he was often asked “Why?” at a time of death.
Reflecting upon the three deaths, Mr Bevan said he asked himself the same question.
“One thing I am absolutely sure of was this was not God’s will,” he said.