Slain University student Sharon Belyn Otieno was finally laid to rest, 46 days after she was brutally murdered, in a ceremony punctuated by emotional eulogies.
Sharon’s parents Melida Auma Otieno and Douglas Otieno, braved a heavy downpour as they eulogised their first born child whose murder has seen suspects - Migori Governor Okoth Obado and his aides Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero spend nearly two months behind bars.
There were cries for justice as mourners trooped to Magare village to pay their last respect to the 26-year-old student whose abduction and murder grabbed the nation’s attention.
”Go in peace my baby girl. I can see you lying there. I know you are not dead but just asleep. Please keep an eye on those who killed you. Don’t allow them any peace. My daughter is not dead,” mourned Ms Auma, as her voice faded away in bursts of emotion.
Sandwiched by her sisters and Seventh Adventist Day Church Deaconesses, she moved mourners to tears when said she was ready to die if that would ensure justice for her daughter. “Let me be the next victim after Sharon. I am ready to die if that will bring justice to Sharon. Let them kill me,” she said.
At this point, Auma pointed to the coffin and tried to break away from her sisters.
Sharon’s mother who was dressed in a green silk dress with matching shoes and a tag emblazoned with Sharon’s photo hanging down her neck said she will never forgive the murderers.
“I have been mourning my daughter every single day ever since she died on September 3. I am heart broken.
She added: “These killers have robbed me of a beautiful daughter, a friend. May Justice be done to her and her unborn child –baby Mashaka, who was brutally killed inside her womb.” She sung an SDA hymn song- “Ageno Wanarom” (I hope we will meet again) and asked mourners to 1st Corinthians 10:13. Sharon’s father, dressed in a black suit, a cream shirt and red shoes appeared dazed and overwhelmed with emotions. “I have lost a brave daughter. She was very obedient and respectful. I want to thank all those who stood by me,” said Mr Otieno.
But it was Homa Bay Town MP and Sharon’s family lawyer Peter Opondo Kaluma who moved mourners when he gave a graphic account of how Sharon died.
Fighting back tears, Mr Kaluma said: “Even a wild animal cannot be killed in that manner. The body you are seeing there is full of grotesque and deep stab wounds. There were countless stab wounds. A final and deadly panga to the neck appeared to have been inflicted on Sharon as she faced her killers. They tortured her. They drove a sword into her abdomen with the aim of killing her unborn baby boy. They had earlier raped her.”
He added: “In an African culture, and even at war you don’t kill a pregnant woman including her unborn baby. It is a curse. Sharon was killed because of the baby she was carrying.”
Rongo University students stormed the funeral shortly after 2pm chanting songs demanding justice for Sharon.
“We want justice. Sharon’s killers must be hanged,” the students shouted as they surrounded the tent where Sharon’s body lay.
The University Dean of Students Ben Asugo, who read a condolence message from the Vice Chancellor Samwel Gudu, said they lost a student who had a bright future.
Church leaders used bible verses to condemn the death of the former university student.
Pastor Wilson Wandago- the Executive Secretary of the SDA Lake Victoria conference office said: “The Bible detests bloodshed.” Quoting from Revelation 6:9, Pastor Wandago said: “The Heavens are asking where is Sharon and who killed her.
Political leaders arrived at the funeral in style, escorted by bodyguards riding in four wheel vehicles.
Rongo MP Paul Abuor had to defend himself after some speakers said they knew key suspects in Sharon’s murder hail from his constituency.
Did not attend funeral
“I want to make a correction that while it is true that the key suspects are from Migori County, they are not from Rongo. They are from a neighboring constituency,” he said.
Mr Abuor and Nairobi businessman, Fred Rabongo said the Constitution should be amended to deny suspects charged with capital offences bail.
“We are demanding a change of the Constitution because these new rules that make it easy for murderers to get bail are not acceptable. We have seen an increase in murders and robberies with violence since the 2010 Constitution made all offenses bailable,” said Mr Rabongo.
More than 50 human rights activists from several counties made a scene at the funeral when they in an Easy Coach Bus from Nairobi hired for them by Nairobi County Women Representative Esther Pasaris.
Human rights activist Rahab Mwikali said: “We have come to stand with the family of Sharon. She did not deserve to die such a painful death. We are appealing to our men to stop killing young women after using them. This is not a Homa Bay affair. It is an international concern.”
Sharon’s body was lowered into the grave shortly after 3.30pm. According to Luo culture, Sharon could not be buried in her father’s homestead because she had been married.
Her estranged husband, Bernard Okuta, did not attend the funeral.
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