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How 24 mourners moved with virus patient from Coast to Siaya and back



Authorities in Mombasa were yesterday scratching their heads after a group of mourners outwitted them and travelled from the coastal city last Thursday to Ndera village in Alego, Siaya, without authorisation.

A 68-year-old woman who was in the same bus with the mourners tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, as they headed back to Mombasa.

Yesterday, Mombasa County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed that all the mourners were forced into a quarantine facility upon their return from Siaya. They are all quarantined at the Kenya Medical Training College in Mombasa, where they were ushered in by police on Sunday. Among those in quarantine is a widow and her two children.

The Standard established that 27 people, including a man who joined the entourage as it arrived in Mombasa, are quarantined.

On Thursday, the 24 took the body of trade unionist Evance Odero from the Coast General Hospital and armed only with a burial permit, headed for Tononoka location, where a local chief allowed them to travel to Ndira village.The trade unionist died on June 5 after developing high fever, with breathing difficulties, according to family reports.

Family members who accompanied the body claim Siaya police confiscated the medical document from them, a claim we could not confirm. It is also not clear under what circumstances the body was allowed to leave the mortuary in Mombasa.

Yesterday, the county commissioner, who is also the chairman of the county Covid-19 emergency team, said the chief had no authority to allow such a journey. He added that under the team’s policy, no more than 15 mourners should have been allowed to travel in the same bus whatsoever.

No authority

“A chief has no authority to issue a permit or letter to mourners to attend a burial outside Mombasa,” Kitiyo said yesterday and added that he ordered an investigation into the letter written by Chief Abdulaziz Mwinyi of Tononoka.

This matter has generated anxiety in Mombasa, exposing the laxity with which security and medical authorities are treating the Covid-19 infections in a county with the second-highest rate of infections. When the 24 arrived in Siaya on Friday, they were detained by police and medical teams gave them only half-an-hour to bury the body, according to Antony Omondi, one of the mourners.

“We were shocked to find police waiting for us after travelling through all roadblocks without any incident,” he said on the telephone yesterday. He added that after burial, they soon realised they were not about to return to Mombasa for they were forced into the local Kenya Medical Training College in Siaya and tested after parting with Sh41,000.

The next day they were allowed to leave without the results under armed escort. We established that the escorting team suddenly abandoned them at Mau Summit.

A second team took over and abandoned them at Salgaa. Before they arrived in Mombasa, tests results showed a 68-year-old woman had tested positive for Covid-19, sparking panic in the bus as it arrived in Voi town.Yesterday, Siaya County Commissioner Michael ole Tialala confirmed that the county Covid-19 response team was aware of the Alego burial, adding that it was done in accordance with the laid down rules.

He said police had escorted the mourners on their way back to Mombasa, and were to be left at a point where another team of officers would take up the escort just to ensure they did not stop at any point to mingle.

Officers ensured

“At the time of escorting them, the results of their Covid-19 tests had not come out, hence they could not be quarantined. But officers ensured other measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks,” he said. Yesterday, chief Abdulaziz confirmed that he authorised the mourners to travel by writing them a letter after they presented him with a copy of burial permit.

He was at pains to explain whether the burial permit was the only document required for the journey, adding that the mourners were expected to seek additional documentation for the local district commissioner and county commissioner.

But he also admitted that he never sought information on the cause of death.Meanwhile, Janam Funeral Services Director David Ongoro said yesterday his office sought clearance from the area chief and they proceeded on the journey believing this was adequate authorisation.


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Families in pain as case on children’s deaths goes cold



With obvious misery lingering in his mildly teary eyes, hands on his cheek, and downcast face, heartbroken Stephen Mulinge speaks in a faint voice.

Mulinge talks haltingly about an arduous couple of months following the shattering discovery and burial of his daughter, Alvinah Mutheu.

From the sitting room, one can clearly see that Mulinge’s home seems to have been barely occupied in recent days. The kitchenware is neatly in place, the floors spotlessly clean and the air quiet, despite the chaotic noises outside the house.

“We don’t live here anymore, but we still pay rent. I just came to check the condition of the house,” Mulinge says.

And perhaps, he says, the apartment his young family once called home may never feel like it again, the same way his family will never be whole again.

On June 11, Alvinah, 3, along with her friend and neighbour, four-year-old Henry Jacktone disappeared while playing outside the residential building where they lived with their families, just next to KMC Estate in Athi River.

But in a shocking turn of events that stunned the country, the decomposed bodies of the young children were discovered on July 1, in a car that the Athi River police officers had towed to the police station’s yard in March, after an accident. The parents had earlier reported the disappearance of the children at the same police station.

Months after the unsettling deaths and burials of Alvinah and Henry, their grieving and desperate parents have fled the haunting and burdensome memories that still hang over their homes, from where their young children vanished, never to return alive.

Mulinge says life will never be the same again for his family, with the unexplained death of his daughter leaving a lifelong scar on their once blissful lives.

“Alvinah’s death derailed us. We left everything behind after her demise. We have never returned to live here since we travelled for the burial in Machakos. We are still figuring out what to do,” Mulinge said during an interview from the apartment where the family used to live.

Mulinge adds that the tragedy plunged them into confusion. For now, he says, all they can do is while away their days in their upcountry home as they think about how to pick up the pieces, even though they do not know how to.

“I am deeply hurt but I have to pull myself together for the sake of our other child,” said Mulinge’s wife, Catherine Musembi, via a phone interview from Machakos.

Catherine further said she opted to remain in Machakos with their older child, since bringing him back to the house in Athi River so soon could be traumatic for him.

A relative of Clinton Odhiambo and Fenny Aoko, the parents of Henry, who declined to give his name told The Standard that the loss had severely impacted the boy’s parents.

“We are trying to help the family forget. We don’t want to keep bringing up the issue,” the close relative said, noting that Henry’s death had absolutely devastated his parents.

Like Alvinah’s parents, the family member said, the haunting memories of Henry’s death have made his family to move from the building where they lived.

He said Henry’s parents moved to another residence within Athi River after the incident.

What exacerbated their pain, the family member said, was the fact that the trail suddenly went cold. As both families reveal, the authorities who were handling the investigations, including Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers and officers from Athi River Police Station, went silent on the progress of the investigations.

But still, the affected parents want to know what happened to their children so they can get closure.

“At least if we get answers and know what happened we will brace ourselves and try to move on,” Mulinge says. “You just feel alone. We are still in darkness two months later. We don’t even know where to begin.”

When the postmortem examination results were released, Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor told the media they were inconclusive as the state of the bodies hindered a proper analysis. He said the cause of the children’s deaths could not be determined following the damage caused by the decomposition of their remains. However, the pathologist also noted that the bodies did not exhibit obvious signs of physical injury.

“I just avoid thinking about it. The police said they would collaborate with a mobile phone company to pursue the identities of the individuals who called us asking for ransom after our children disappeared, but we have not heard anything. No one from the police station has bothered to talk to us ever since they gave us our child’s body,” said Catherine.

DCI Head of investigations John Kariuki said yesterday the matter was still under investigation.

“What justice will come out of the media reporting the plight of the families? Will it bring the children back to life,” the relative of Henry’s parents asked.


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Catholic Priest on death row sues State, challenging confession law



Incarcerated Catholic priest Guyo Waqo Malley is back in court seeking to outlaw a law which gave him away for the murder of a colleague working in Isiolo.

Father Guyo alongside Adan Ibrahim Mohammed, Mohammed Molu Bagajo, Roba Balla Bariche and Mahati Ali Halake are serving time at Kamiti Prison after they were sentenced to death in 2014 for the murder of Father Luigi Lucati.

Father Lucati was killed on July 14, 2005. Their jailing followed a confession by Isaack Abdi Mohammed on how the plot to eliminate Lucati was hatched, failed several times and finally succeeded.

During the trial, the court found the four planned and actively participated in the murder of the Italian priest.

Six years into their sentence, Guyo, Mulo, Roba and Halake have filed a new case before the High Court arguing that confession rules are not applicable to trials in Kenya and.

According to the four, the Out of Court Confessions Rules, 2009, were passed by Parliament without consultations and should therefore be declared unconstitutional.

Spilled the beans

Ali spilled the beans, giving away the convicted priest and his accomplices in a video confession before Justice Weldon Korir who was in 2005 serving as a magistrate in Isiolo.

In their new filing, the four say the confession law is against the right to an accused person to remain silent and not to be forced to self-incriminate.

“It is apparent that in the circumstances that the taking, recording or admission of out of court confessions would be a gross violation of an arrested or an accused person’s rights to remain silent and not to be compelled to make a confession,” they argue in their case filed before High Court judge Anthony Murima.

They argue that the rules are inconsistent with the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2003 and which spell out that confessions or any admission to guilt by an accused person cannot be used against such person unless it is admitted before a court.

The four want the court to declare that the confession by Ali was against their right, hence their trial and conviction was unfair.

“The petitioners pray for a declaration that the confession evidence relied upon to found the conviction of the petitioners should be excluded under Article 50(4) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 as the admission rendered their trial fatally unfair,” they argued adding that the High Court had earlier directed the Attorney General to relook the Evidence Act in a bid to make amendments.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji is however opposed to the case and wants the court to dismiss it. According to Haji, the new case amounts to re-opening the criminal trial and would amount to the judge supervising his colleague.

He said that they had initially challenged the admissibility of the confession before the trial court and which then High Court judge Jackton Ojwang (now retired) dismissed their application and ordered the criminal case to proceed.

After the court sentenced Waqo, Mulo, Roba and Halake to death in 2014, they filed an appeal challenging the verdict. The appeal has not yet been heard.

Father Lucati died when a bullet entered through the right side of the shoulder, tore through the neck, shattered his jaw bones, and exited on the left side of his chin.

Former government pathologist John Njue told the trial court that the killer bullet must have been fired from a powerful gun. The priest died from a single shot.


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