Man’s agony in fight to bury his mother

Kevin Kinyanjui at Standard Group offices yesterday. His mother’s body has been detained by a hospital over Sh1.4 million mortuary fee. [George Njunge, Standard]

A 24-year-old man is fighting to have his late mother buried after being detained in a mortuary for close to two years over Sh1.4 million bills. Kevin Kinyanjui has been left to fight alone to give his mother Naomi Muthoni a good send-off after a court battle between his stepfather and relatives on who should bury her. Kinyanjui’s pain is that he cannot raise the Sh1.4 million mortuary fees being demanded by AIC Kijabe Hospital as he is jobless and his step-father has been depleted by the court case.

“It is painful whenever I think of my mother’s body lying in the mortuary. The pain gets worse when my younger siblings keep asking me when our mother will leave the mortuary,” he said.

 The dispute started when Muthoni died on September 8, 2017 at AIC Kijabe Hospital from complications after a caesarean operation to deliver her last born daughter. As her husband Fredrick Okungu (Kinyanjui’s stepfather) began funeral arrangements, Muthoni’s mother Njeri Mwangi and brothers demanded that she should be buried at their home in Murang’a County and not the husband’s home in Kisumu County.

 When they failed to agree on the burial place, Okungu sought intervention of the court to bury his wife at his rural home in Kajulu, Kisumu. Okungu’s case was that his in-laws were planning to secretly bury his wife at Kagumo-ini village yet he was her legal husband, having married her under Kikuyu customary laws in 2012 and paid the pride price.

He, however, admitted that they had a disagreement that made his wife to move out of their matrimonial home in Kariobangi, Nairobi, and go to live in Ngong’, where they had bought land and built a house. But Okungu’s mother-inlaw, in her defence, insisted she did not recognise the marriage because it was not in accordance with customs of her clan.

Although she admitted that Okungu had brought them gifts, including blankets, goats and Sh40,000 cash, which had been negotiated as bride price, she said they did not form part of the bride price, as she considered them presents to the family. Justice Farah Amin then ruled that Muthoni’s body be interred at a neutral place at her Ngong’ home, where all families could attend after a disagreement on whether Okungu was legally married to her.

The judge also ruled that since Kinyanjui was already an adult, he should be given priority in deciding where his mother should be buried, a place he and his siblings could easily access. FullBy registered Kinyanjui and his stepfather, however, applied for a review of the court order to allow them to bury Muthoni at Lang’ata Cemetery on grounds the land in Ngong’ had not been fully registered in his mother’s name.

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 But Muthoni’s mother opposed the application insisting she wanted her daughter buried in Murang’a. Justice Aggrey Muchelule, on May 9, allowed the application and directed that the body be interred at Lang’ata as per Okungu and his stepson’s application. Kinyanjui said, after the court case, they were surprised when the hospital demanded Sh1.4 million to release the body.

 “I am jobless and my stepfather cannot raise the amount after the grueling case. My siblings are in school and we are struggling to pay their fees. My plea is for the hospital to waive the fees and allow me bury my mother,” he said.

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Kevin KinyanjuiAIC Kijabe HospitalNaomi MuthoniFredrick OkunguBurial