Family wants court to allow them bury kin in disputed land

Youths exhumes the body of the late Ogada Ouko at Tiengre in Kisumu county on May 23 following a court order over land dispute. [PHOTO/COLLINS ODUOR]
The family of a man whose body has been lying in the mortuary for six years now wants a Kisumu law court to allow them to bury the deceased in the land in contention.

Four relatives of the late Barack Ogada whose body was dramatically exhumed from the parcel of land yesterday narrated to the court the ordeal they have gone through in their quest to have their kin buried.

They claimed that the parcel of land belonged to the father of Ogada and had not been transferred to another buyer.

Jessica Ogada, the wife of the deceased told Senior Principal Magistrate Winfred Onkunya that the land belonged to the family of her husband and demanded for compensation of the amount of money she has spent in her quest to bury her husband.

In the suit, James Onunga has sued the four relatives for burying their kin in the parcel of land which is registered in his name.

The family had made two futile attempts to bury their kin at the land in contention with Onunga blocking their attempts after obtaining court orders.

Yesterday, Ms Ogada narrated to the court how their attempt to bury the deceased on the parcel of land in 2014 turned chaotic with the body of her husband taken back to the mortuary.

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“When we brought the body for burial in 2014, Onunga came in the company of policemen and took the body away and returned it to the mortuary,” said Ms Ogada.

She said that Onunga claimed that they had invaded his land but insisted that the land was their family land in which they were living in until 1983 when they moved to Nandi.

The family claimed that after the body was returned to the morgue, they obtained a court order allowing them to bury the deceased at the same parcel of land.

The late Ogada who died in 2014 sold the land in 1986 and is said to have been part of the transaction. [COLLINS ODUOR]
The court heard that the burial was however short-lived as Onunga came back about a month after the burial and exhumed the body and returned it to the mortuary.

“I was jailed for a month in Kodiaga Prison for one month after the burial,” said Ms Ogada.

According to her, the parcel of land in question belonged to Francis Ago who was the father of the deceased.

She however could not confirm if she knew of the transfer of the parcel of land to Ago but insisted that the land belonged to their family.

Documents presented in court yesterday including a title deed and an agreement however indicated that the parcel had been listed under the name of James Onunga.

The court heard that a house that was constructed for the deceased prior to his burial was destroyed while the construction of a permanent house at the parcel had also stalled.

Thomas Ago, another defendant in the case told the court that they only learnt that the land had been transferred when they were taken to court.

He however claimed that the parcel of land belonged to their family and denied knowledge of any transfer that was made to the Onunga.

His testimony was also shared with Stephen Ogallo, a nephew to the deceased who also questioned the authenticity of some of the documents that listed Onunga as the owner of the parcel.

“We wanted to bury him in the parcel of land because the parcel belonged to his father,” said Ogallo.

The body has been lying at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital Mortuary since 2014. The family buried the body in 2017 but was exhumed a month later. [PHOTO/COLLINS ODUOR]
Two more witnesses are expected to testify before the court.

In her ruling, the magistrate ordered that the Executive Officer of the court to present documents of the case that was filed in the lands court.

In 2017, residents were treated to drama as police officers exhumed the body of the deceased from the disputed parcel of land.

A building that had been built at the parcel was destroyed with only its roof left.

The hearing of the case will continue on August 21.

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Ogada OukoKisumu countyparcel of land