A mother wants the body of her 32-year-old son exhumed after her estranged lover buried it despite a court order prohibiting him from doing so.
Raphael Gona, who died in January, was born out of a union between Timothy Mwambogo and Prisca Gona. However, the relationship collapsed two years after their son was born and they went their separate ways, with the boy moving away with his mother.
Since Raphael’s death in January, the estranged couple has been in court seeking orders to bury him.
Last Sunday, the body was taken from the mortuary where it had been kept for months for burial at his father’s homestead, sparking a new round of accusations.
The deceased’s mother claims the body was “stolen” from the mortuary despite a court order.
“I had a son with Mwambogo but we separated when my son was two years old and I have raised him single handedly.
“But when he died, the father came out of the blue and went to court to stop my family from burying him,” said Prisca, referring to the first order issued by the magistrate’s court to Mwambogo.
She insists that she was never married to Mwambogo, and that they merely cohabited. According to Prisca, the man never paid bride price or palm wine for the children as per the Mijikenda traditions.
Prisca says that, according to tradition, children belong to the man who has met all the traditional customary marriage rites. In Mwambogo’s case, she says, he was not recognised as the father.
Mwambogo moved to court in March following Raphael’s death and applied for the restraining orders before Senior Resident Magistrate Silvia Wewa.
“From the foregoing I do find that the claim by the plaintiff is proved on a balance of probability. I do enter in the plaintiff’s favour. The plaintiff is entitled to have the remains of the son and have the same interred,” ruled Wewa.
He had moved to court to claim a permanent injunction restraining Prisca from burying Raphael at her father’s home in Matsangoni village, in Kilifi North.
He also wanted the court to allow him to participate in burial arrangements and be allowed to bury his son at his home in Kwandomo, Magarini.
But Prisca and her brothers John Kalama and George Gona filed a counter-claim, stating that Mwambogo did not pay dowry and failed to comply with the requirements of a valid marriage under Giriama customary law or any other law, and hence had not right to claim the body.
They also claimed that Mwambogo never participated in the upbringing of his two sons, hence had no right to bury the deceased.
Prisca contested the ruling and Wewa’s orders were suspended until the hearing of their case.
“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, there be a stay of execution of the judgement and decree made by this honourable court on March 7, 2019,” ruled Malindi High Court Deputy Registrar D Wasike on April 1.
Prisca now says that despite the restraining order, her former lover went ahead and stole the corpse.
“They went to the mortuary on Saturday at 11pm and with the help of the hospital administrator they removed the body and buried it on Sunday in total disregard of a court order,” said George Gona, the deceased’s uncle yesterday.
Mr Gona also said that Mwambogo used his influence with security agencies to remove the remains and later hurriedly buried it at his home.
A local chief who requested anonymity told The Standard yesterday that the burial took place on Sunday in Kwandomo.
The Standard also independently confirmed the corpse was removed from the mortuary and buried at Kwandomo on Sunday.
In a letter written by the defendant’s lawyer on May 2, the hospital management was ordered to keep the body until the case in court was finalised.
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