Remains of slain bishop recovered

An undated picture of Esther Bochaberi Oyugi, a pastor who was abducted and murdered in Suneka Kisii County, last month. Her body has since been discovered in a sugar plantation in Awendo. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]
She had been missing for a month before her body, reduced to a mere skull, was discovered in a sugar plantation in Awendo, more than 40km from her home.

A charismatic and popular bishop, Esther Bonchaberi, 60, was kidnapped from her home in Bonchari, Kisii County, by unknown people.

Her disappearance brought chaos and tension to the village, resulting in the burning of several houses and business premises. 

The recovery came a week after Interior Cabinet Security Fred Matiang'i warned security personnel in Kisii of laxity for having failed to trace the church leader.

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Dr Matiangi said he had asked the Director of Criminal Investigations to set up a special unit to deal with crime in the counties.

“I have ordered the formation of a special police unit to deal with a new criminal gang in parts of Kisii and Nyamira counties," he said.

Eight police officers from the nearby Gesonso Police Station have already been transferred, with sources saying more officers including their seniors could be on their way out.

Reportedly abducted

Ms Bonchaberi, a mother of six, was reportedly abducted from her house in Kiandege village, Kisii South.

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Exactly a month after her abduction on March 11, 2018, her skull was found, on a Friday evening.

A metre away were the bones of her two hands and other parts.

It appeared wild dogs had torn the flesh off her body.

Bonchaberi lived on a parcel of land measuring approximately 50 by 200 metres located along the road.

The land is a few metres from the Suneka Airstrip currently under renovation and some have questioned whether her killing had something to do with the sale of land.

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Last month, five suspects, among them a chief who has since been interdicted, were arraigned and charged with her abduction.

They pleaded not guilty before being released on a bond of Sh200,000 and surety of a similar amount each.

Five more suspects were arrested last Thursday in connection with one of the most brutal murder cases in the area in the recent past.

Kisii County Police Commander Hassan Abdi said they would not immediately confirm the identity of the body found until they carried out DNA tests.

“We only have the skeleton. Let’s be patient as we await further direction,” said Mr Abdi.

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Bonchaberi's relatives however insist the remains are hers because they found remains of the clothes she wore on the day she disappeared.

On Tuesday, Kisii Woman Representative Janet Ongera raised the matter in the National Assembly, asking for clarification from the Interior CS on the progress of the investigations.

She said since the matter was reported to the police in Kisii, it had caused a lot of anguish and suffering for the family.

The abduction had led to the disbandment of the entire community policing team in Bonchari constituency and a subsequent election of new members a week ago.

After the body was found on Friday, more houses were set  ablaze by angry villagers.

Esther Bonchaberikisii countyinsecurity