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Dignity of the dead

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Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things we have to go through in life, even under the best of circumstances.

But the nature and sheer scale of the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic now brought a number of questions with regard to how the government has handled burials of victims, with experts now condemning the Health Ministry for violating the dignity of the dead.

BURIAL RITUALS

Global burial rituals are being dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its March 24 guidance on burials of Covid-19 victims said that dead bodies are generally not infectious.

However, it recommends that relatives should not touch or kiss the body.

This, coupled with the Health Ministry’s directives that local health authorities should designate a team to oversee the process and that a maximum of only 15 people, strictly adhering to the social distancing, will be allowed at the funeral of their loved one, have upended important death and burial rituals.

The Health ministry notes that to avoid community practices that would result in more infections through contact, bodies of people who have died of, or suspected to have died of Covid-19, should be handled by a public health official.

The step-by-step guidelines contained in the interim guidance for safe transportation of human remains are intended to protect workers involved in the burial, right from the mortuary to the place of final disposition, the Ministry notes.

But experts have questioned the manner in which these procedures have been implemented as many say the government has blatantly violated the dignity of the dead.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19 kills 23 Kenyans in diaspora, 191 infected

“Being buried at night is synonymous with being buried like a thief. Everybody is entitled to a decent burial and families have a right to mourn,” said Dr Richard Ayah, a health systems and policy expert.

Since the spine-chilling viral video of the burial of the eighth Covid-19 victim in Siaya County surfaced, two more victims in Bomet and Trans Nzoia counties have been buried in what Dr Ayah termed inhumane manner.

RUSHED BURIAL

Families of three Covid-19 patients who have been buried by health officials donned in personal protective gear have decried the manner in which their kin have been buried, alleging that the government did not let them have a say in the burials.

At the same time, Prof Lukoye Atwoli reiterates that the dead people ought to be treated with respect no matter what they die from.

Every effort must be made to accord the necessary dignity and respect to those who die from Covid-19 and to allow, as much as possible, the family wishes on how the burial should be conducted within the bounds of public health.

“Whereas we agree that the deceased should be buried as fast as possible within 48 hours, we shouldn’t engage in a process that increases stigma like rushing to bury people at night,” the associate professor at Moi University’s School of Medicine and the vice-president of the Kenya Medical Association noted.

As the number of Covid-19 deaths continue to rise in the country, with 50 deaths having been recorded in Kenya so far, experts are calling on the government to come up with guidelines that will ensure that the dead are given their last respects.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19: How the government let down a family whose matriarch died in 72 hours

While all precautions must be taken in ensuring no one is exposed in case there is a death, what appears to be bothering Kenyans who watched the Siaya video is the treatment that the body was accorded, and whether this is how the rest of the Covid-19 deaths have been treated or will be treated.

“While we appreciate that infection prevention measures should be adhered to, we are asking the ministry to incorporate the expertise of sociologists and come up with proper guidelines that factor in the cultural aspects of our people. For instance, people in western Kenya bury their elderly in the afternoon and children in the morning,” explained Dr Ayah.

Because Covid-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk, it is less likely to be passed on by a dead body – although now we know that transmission is technically possible.

To date, the WHO says there is no evidence of persons having been infected from exposure to the bodies of those who died of Covid-19.

DIGNIFIED BURIAL

Further, Dr Ayah points out that very few health officials have been trained on how to carry out a dignified burial.

“In Kenya, I think it’s only the military that know how to perform these ceremonies. The government is never involved in burials, so very few people have the technical know-how,” added Dr Ayah.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19 kills 23 Kenyans in diaspora, 191 infected

In April, the Ministry of Health came up with two conflicting regulations within days of each other regarding how burial and cremation ceremonies should be undertaken.
The public health (prevention, control, and suppression of Covid-19) rules, 2020 of April 3 state that these ceremonies should be conducted between 9am and 3pm.

But on April 6, a Kenya Gazette Special Issue Supplement No. 41 stated that where a person infected with Covid-19 dies, the body shall be interred or cremated within 48 hours from the time of death.

“I don’t understand why people are being buried at night. They (the Health ministry) keep contradicting themselves. The conflicting regulations go to show how failure to have clear communication continues to promote stigma,” said Allan Maleche, a human rights lawyer and the executive director of the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV/Aids (KELIN).

Director-General of Health Patrick Amoth recently insisted that the ministry had customised the WHO guidelines which outline how Covid-19 victims should be buried. But he noted that the rushed burials conducted at night have been carried out in counties which are still ill-prepared.

“We discourage burials at night and have advised them on what to do while being cognisant of cultural practices, so take it up with the counties,” Dr Amoth said in response to queries on the matter.

By Nairobi News

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Rich men the target of violent robberies in fake online love affairs

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On November 28 last year, American Philipe Chiliade landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to meet his gay lovers whom he had fallen in love with after a brief encounter on Facebook.

Chiliade was chauffeured out of the airport in a cab and taken to a single room in Pipeline estate in Nairobi, where his life would turn into misery, in the hands of the purported lovers.

He was extensively tortured and robbed of everything by men who had promised romance but left him nursing serious injuries while slowly accepting the reality that he had lost everything to lust.

He was rescued by members of the public who intercepted a car he was being driven in back to the JKIA – where he was to be dumped.

The man driving the car – Fredrick Mutua – was handed over to officers at Embakasi Police Station.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

During interrogation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mutua claimed he had been invited by his cousins to cook for ‘friend’, Chiliade, as they attended to some other matters to attend to. He further claimed that he had travelled from Kithyoko in Machakos County to do the errand for a fee.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19: How the government let down a family whose matriarch died in 72 hours

Detectives believed him after they established that Chiliade had been hoodwinked to travel to Nairobi from South Africa and had not communicated to Mutua prior to the incident. They were seemingly wrong.

Mutua was part of the four-man gang. His three accomplices had escaped with Chiliade’s money believed to be more Sh2 million, his travel documents and other personal belongings.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

Chiliade had left his husband after he was hoodwinked by his newfound lovers, unaware that their intention was to rob him.

On December 2, 2019, Inspector Anderson Miriti of Embakasi DCI offices presented Mutua at Makadara Law Courts seeking orders to hold him for a week to assist police trace his cousins.

Mr Miriti told Senior Principal Magistrate Stephen Jalang’o that investigators were gathering evidence from JKIA and Kithyoko where the suspects were believed to have taken the loot, and Mutua would be a prosecution witness.

Catherine Mumbi Kivuva, a suspect in one of the cases.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

Mutua was freed thereafter as DCI continued to pursue his three cousins wanted for the crime.

Things went silent until Sunday, October 11, this year when Mutua was arrested in Ruaka, where he was caught red-handed while torturing and robbing Turkish national Bubak Amrullah.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19 kills 23 Kenyans in diaspora, 191 infected

Police say Amrullah had been lured into the house by Mutua’s female accomplice, Catherine Mumbi Kivuva, when he (Mutua) and his cousins Bernard Mbunga and Kelvin Nzioki descended on him.

Fredrick Mutiso at Makadara law courts on December 2 last year.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

The DCI detectives from Lang’ata were trailing Mutua and his accomplices in connection with a robbery in Imara Daima, Nairobi, where an Asian businessman was robbed after he went to meet his online lover who invited him to her house for sex.

The businessman had gone to Mutua’s cousin Mary Mukii Kioko’s house when he was attacked.

Online dating

Ms Kioko, an actress with a production outfit in Machakos, was charged with violently robbing the victim of Sh453,000 jointly with others while armed with a knife on September 22 in Lang’ata.

Deelano Kiilu.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

Her cousins, Mr Mutua, Mr Mbunga and Mr Nzioki are all in custody at the Nyayo police station while Ms Kioko is awaiting bail and bond application ruling after Chief Magistrate Abdul Lorot of Kibera Law Courts asked for her social inquiry report before setting the terms.

The four suspects in police custody had escaped DCI’s dragnet in Imara Daima in Embakasi on October 3, where their cousins Ms Kioko and Mr Mutua’s brother Gideon Mbusu were arrested.

Lang’ata police commander Gregory Mutiso said police have identified the online dating-related robbery as a new trend in crime involving criminals who are luring men on the internet.

Mr Mutiso said the gangs are targeting wealthy men who have families and reputations at stake. These cases increased after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with many people forced to stay and work indoors.

Mr Mutiso said the biggest challenge in bring the culprits to book is the reluctance of the victims to come forward and report after they have been robbed.

For example, the Asian victim allegedly robbed by Ms Kioko and her accomplices claimed he was abducted in Nairobi West although he met the suspects on Mombasa Road.

“We have seen reluctance among some men who don’t want to report because some of them are family men and being exposed. We have a challenge because others don’t even want the cases to proceed. I know many have been robbed but don’t want to come out because for fear of being embarrassed,” Mr Mutiso said.

“In one case, a complainant, who was robbed nearly half a million, has completely declined to record a statement. Even if you take the suspect to court, they will eventually be acquitted.

Some of the items recovered from Catherine Kivuva’s house, according to detectives.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

“I am warning men to be careful. If you are seeking a relationship, date a person that you can see and not online because you don’t know the person you are chatting with. These men are using pictures of beautiful and curvy women to lure you and very few (men) can resist,” he added.

Mr Mutiso is appealing to men who have been robbed in this manner to forward and report to the police.

He says an identification parade will be conducted to pick out the culprits, then cases will be referred to the police jurisdictions where the crimes happened.

The police boss said detectives are ready to help all men who have been robbed in the same way and promised confidentiality.

These criminals not only target foreigners.

A 38-year-old woman who lured her online lover, before four men, including one claiming to be her husband, stormed the house and joined her in allegedly robbing him, was charged with robbery with violence before the Makadara Law Courts on June 24.

Eunice Wambui was charged with robbing Dennis Ntabo of his phone worth Sh23,000, an ATM card, a chain worth Sh1,500 and Sh5,000 in Kahawa West in Nairobi on May 18.

She was also accused of transferring Sh15,946 from Ntabo’s M-Pesa account.

Mr Ntabo, 32, was delivering electronics to a client and decided to contact Ms Wambui – his then Facebook girlfriend – to quarantine in her house because he could not beat the then 7pm curfew deadline.

Ms Wambui took him to her house and, a few minutes later, four men stormed the house and tortured him the whole night.

Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

Protection and Safety Association of Kenya (PROSAK) Secretary-General Deelano Kiilu said the incidents, which are spiking in the country, are a result of the Covid-19 pandemic because people have been forced to stay at home and remain online.

As such, Kiiu explains, men on the internet begin to live in the universe surrounded by galaxies of online activities.

This, combined with psychological pressure and loneliness, especially for single men, Kiilu says, has presented a great opportunity for criminals easily lure their victims into their traps.

Honey traps

“What we are seeing is a trend called the honey trap. A man will stumble on a picture or a video of a very beautiful ‘woman’ online who he will then be tempted to reach out to and to chat with. She will seem very open and willing to talk to him and will slowly entice him into a relationship on the internet,” Kiilu says.

“When a man believes he is going to get value out of that relationship, he is then lured into a trap of physical entanglement with this ‘woman’. But that occurs at either the ‘woman’s’ home or in a secluded location where he can be taken advantage of by ‘her’ collaborators in the activity.”

Mr Kiilu said the women are aware that psychologically men are attracted to beauty so the women are using that allure to draw the man into the honey trap.

The worst scenarios that have been perpetrated are men posing as women online to entice a man into an entanglement.

But when the man reaches the destination, he finds men waiting for him. They will pounce on him, blackmail, torture and even rob him as in the recent cases.

Mr Kiilu said people create personas on various online dating portals.

Sometimes, Mr Kiilu said, the traps can be laid on an innocent Facebook page, Instagram or Snapchat and other dating sites like Tinder and Grindr.

A victim then finds himself lured into an online conversation. The scammers are usually reluctant to have a telephone conversation but are willing to have a lot of online chatting, say all the right things and lure a man, Mr Kiilu said.

“When they use this honey trap to lure a man to get to the particular location, the game is over. He is robbed of what he has and abandoned. In a lot of the cases we have seen, since the victims fear embarrassment, they don’t report to the police. They decide to leave and live very quietly,” Mr Kiilu said.

“In one incident that happened in Ngumo estate, a man woke up and found himself naked in a bed in his hotel room. The hotel management told him that he came in with some women and paid for everything. Apperently, the man woke up three days later without a single cent and his bank accounts cleaned. His ATM cards had been used to wipe clean his banlk accounts.”

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Ruth Matete welcomes bouncing baby girl 

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Gospel singer Ruth Matete has finally welcomed a bouncing baby girl, Toluwa, months after her husband’s demise.

Sources have intimated that the Tusker Project Fame (TPF) winner went into about earlier in the week before her due date and delivered through Caesarian Section (CS)

Taking to Instagram, the singer acknowledged the warm wishes sent by fans and friends stating that her bundle of joy had arrived.

“I have not ignored your kind and warm messages of congratulations. Thank you so much glory to God! Ni mimi wenyu, Mchungaji Ruth Matete, ukipenda mama Toluwa, ukipenda Madam big belle,” she wrote.

Last month, the singer opened up on dealing with grief months after her husband died due to sustained injuries from a gas accident at home.

Through an Instagram post, the singer narrated that grief was not an easy thing to deal with as some days are completely hard.

She further indicated that she sometimes gets conflicted about taking too long mourning about her late husband while at the same time she thinks she is being hard on herself.

“Truth is some days are very hard. When death knocks at your door, there’s nothing you can do.

READ ALSO:   Covid-19 kills 23 Kenyans in diaspora, 191 infected

“Some days, voices in my head tell me am taking too long in this mourning phase. But I have made up my mind not to be hard on myself,” she wrote.

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Sonko gives City tenants six months waiver on rent

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has extended rent waiver for tenants residing in City County Government houses for six more months citing COVID-19 financial challenges.

In a statement, Sonko accused officers of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) of harassing vulnerable city residents over rent arrears despite the current economic crisis occasioned by the pandemic.

“My attention has been drawn to the outcry of a majority of tenants occupying residential houses belonging to the Nairobi City County Government, following persistent harassment by officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) over rent arrears

“I do hereby extend the waiver earlier granted for a period of a further six (6) months from the date of this letter, as our residents continue to recover economically from the effects the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sonko said.

The Governor’s move is expected to trigger a standoff with the Major General Mohamed Badi-led Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and tenants

READ ALSO:   Covid-19: How the government let down a family whose matriarch died in 72 hours
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