Cleric arrested for exhuming relatives' bodies in land deal

Bishop Samuel Macharia (third left) collects remains of bodies of relatives he had had exhumed at Kinamba in Naivasha before he was arrested yesterday. [Anthony Gitonga, Standard]
A cleric was yesterday arrested after he was found exhuming bodies of his relatives at Kinamba in Naivasha yesterday.

Bishop Samuel Macharia, of Christ Exalt Adoption Church, wanted to exhume seven bodies, including those of his wife, son and mother, so he could sell the land to the owner of a nearby quarry.

By the time the police and public health officials pounced on him, Macharia, of the Akorino faith, had already disinterred three bodies.

Some bodies are said to have been buried over 20 years ago. The latest was buried three years ago.

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He told the police he planned to rebury the bodies on another piece of land.

Court order

The incident comes barely a month after a woman exhumed her one-year-old daughter, claiming she wanted to pray for her to resurrect.

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In his defence, Bishop Macharia said he decided to exhume the bodies because he could not afford to pay experts to do it. 

Further, he said he had tried to obtain a court order to disinter the bodies but the process was taking long.

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"I have another parcel of land where I wanted to take the bodies for reburial. I guess I should have waited to get a court order," said Macharia.

He added: "I have been to the courts, police stations and public health offices but they did not help me. I got tired of waiting and decided to move the bodies to another parcel so I could sell this land." 

Relatives and neighbours defended the cleric and accused authorities of failing to grant him permission to exhume the bodies.

They also said exhumation was common in the area and saw nothing wrong with Macharia's actions.

Residents said many people have been relocating graves to allow quarrying.

Rebecca Wambui, a niece of the cleric, said Macharia dug up the bodies at night.

Flattened graves

She was shocked when she woke up and found some of the graves flattened.

"He had informed us that he would rebury the bodies in his other piece of land so he could sell this one. However, he did not involve the Government and we feared this would bring him problems," said Ms Wambui.

A neighbour, Miriam Wangari, termed the incident as normal. "Tens of bodies have been exhumed to give way to quarries," said Ms Wangari.

She added: “We have been witnessing exhumations of bodies in this area for a long time. What happened on Macharia's land did not surprise us. Bodies are all the time being moved to other graves to give way to quarries."

Naivasha OCPD Samuel Waweru said the exhumed bodies had been taken to Naivasha sub-county hospital mortuary. "The suspect is in custody and will be taken to court soon," said Waweru.

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