Missing man reunites with kin after six years in South Sudan

Augustine Mwaniki (centre) flanked by brothers and a well-wisher Evangeline Karimi when he arrived home in Kivwe village, Embu County on Sunday morning after six years away during which time he ended up in several countries and became mentally unstable. The man whose photographs have been circulating on social media showing him stranded in Torit town in South Sudan was finally re-united his family. [Photo: Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

A man whose photographs have been circulating on social media showing him stranded in Torit town, South Sudan, has been reunited with his family.

Thirty-two-year-old Augustine Mwaniki arrived home in Kivwe village, Embu, on Sunday morning after going missing for six years. Disbelieving family members hugged him upon his return.

A Kenyan only identified as Rebecca took photos of Mwaniki when she noticed him loitering in the streets.

She struck up a conversation with him and learned his name and where he hails from, which sparked efforts to trace his family.

According to his brother, Peter Kariuki, Mwaniki left home in 2012 after the burial of their parents, and went to live with another brother in Kirinyaga.

“After a few months, Mwaniki left our brother’s home in Mwea and could not be traced. We looked for him everywhere, even reporting his disappearance to the local administration without success,” said Mr Kariuki.

He said the family was pained to see the photos of Mwaniki in such a bad state, which prompted him to seek help from well-wishers to bring his brother back from South Sudan.

“Before Mwaniki’s disappearance, he was a man full of life who would express himself freely. We are now surprised that we cannot sit and have a meaningful conversation due to his condition,” said Kariuki.

Evangeline Karimi, a well-wisher who saw the photos on social media, said she called Kariuki and together they started the campaign to bring Mwaniki home.

Ms Karimi said they received a lot of help from Kenyans living in Southern Sudan. She singled out one James Nyaga, who facilitated Mwaniki’s transport by road from Torit to Uganda, and later to Malaba and Busia where his family picked him up on Saturday.

“During our journey home, he told us he travelled to South Sudan to seek greener pastures,” said Karimi. Mwaniki also claimed he’d worked as a mechanic and had at one time travelled to the Central African Republic.

Back in Embu, Mwaniki avoided talking to people and preferred to eat in the farm. He was hosted by his brother because he had not built a house.

On Monday, the family and well-wishers took Mwaniki to the Embu Level Five Hospital for a medical check-up.