Several bodies lying in morgues over land cases in Kisii

Family members of the late Kepher Oyaro gather around an empty grave after his body was exhumed over land dispute four years ago at Nyagiti village in Marani Sub County, Kisii. (Sammy Omingo/Standard)
For four years, Teresa Ogeto, 70 has been waking up to an open grave outside her compound in Nyagiti village in Marani Sub County Kisii.

The body of her son Kefah Oyaro, 22, was exhumed less than five hours after his burial as family members fought over an eight-acre piece of land. The bill at Kisii Level Five Hospital morgue that would later confront them has risen to more Sh500, 000.

Teresa has been denied a right to bury her son who according to the death certificate died of kidney failure. She has been left fighting alone. A section of family members claim that Teresa was not legally married by her late husband.

Four months ago, Teresa’s other son Isaac Onwonga also died and his body was taken to a Nyamira Hospital mortuary. Another court order was issued stopping the family from burying their kin.

Teresa’s husband Ogeto Mageto died 26 years ago, after the passing on of the family’s first wife Kerubo Ogeto. In the Kisii customs once a husband has died, her remains are buried by the first wife.

In case the first wife dies ahead of the husband the second wife is allowed to bury the husband. In this case, Teresa who is the second wife buried her husband inside her compound.

Rachel Omariba and Evans Omariba both siblings from the first family appeared in court as accusers while Teresa Onwonga and Charles Onwonga appeared as respondents in the two court matters.

Across the County in Bokona Village Gesusu ward in Nyaribari Masaba, the body of Douglas Maisiba has been lying at Nyamanche Hospital Mortuary for two years.

Plans by family members and villagers to have a decent burial for their kin were put on hold through a court injunction; the whole of the family land had allegedly been sold to a businesswoman identified as Rachel.

Rachel claims to have bought the more than two-acre piece of land from the deceased using a cow and a goat in 1992 as the total sum of the land.

The deceased’s brother Maunga Abuga told the Standard that they were not aware that the land was sold.

“We don’t want to believe that our late brother could decide to sale his entire piece of land. We want the courts to expedite the process and have the land reverted to my sister-in law and her children. They have nothing to eat because they can’t till the land in question,” said Maunga.

The issue in Kisii is coupled by the lack of a land for public cemetery with the existing cemetery allegedly been grabbed.

Kisii Level Five Hospital CEO Dr Enock Ondari said some bodies have stayed in the morgue for more than five years due to court orders.

“There are eight bodies at the hospital morgue that have been retained due to such cases,” he said.

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Kisii Level Five HospitalKisii CountyLand Disputes