Nurses' union official Ferdinand Ongeri found dead after talks

Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kisumu branch deputy chairperson Ferdinand Ongeri, whose body was found in Kimondi Forest in Nandi County. [Denish Ochieng’, Standard]
The Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) has demanded investigation into the killing of its Kisumu branch deputy secretary.

The decomposing body of Ferdinand Ongeri, 40, was found dumped at Kimondi Forest in Nandi County on Saturday.

He went missing after successfully negotiating a promotion deal for nurses with the county's Health department on Wednesday.

Speaking to The Standard, the Knun Secretary General Seth Panyako claimed Ongeri might have been murdered because of his union work. 

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"He was a promising unionist who did not hesitate to speak his mind in assessing union issues. He had a high potential of ascending to the top leadership of the union," said Mr Panyako. 

Family insecure

Ongeri's brother Polycarp Ondiek yesterday told The Standard the family was yet to come to terms with his death.

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“We still do not know why he was killed. The family feels insecure because no one knows the motive,” said Mr Ondiek, adding that the father of three did not have any known enemies.

“My brother lived a peaceful life. He had no problem with anybody and had never raised fear that his life was in danger,” he said.

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Reports from Knun officials indicated that Ongeri went missing on July 24, hours after successful negotiations on the promotion of nurses with the county’s Health department. 

After the 11am meeting, according to Knun Kisumu branch Secretary-General Maurice Opetu, Ongeri headed to Riat Dispensary, where he worked.

On Friday afternoon Ongeri’s mother called Knun officials saying she had been trying to reach him in vain.

Promise to share

According to Mr Opetu, Ongeri had promised to share details of his negotiations with the county officials on the union’s online platform but did not.

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“It was unusual for the official not to update his colleagues on the outcomes of his meetings with county officials,” he said.

“We went to his house at Dago Market with police officers. We broke three windows, but there was no one in there,” said Knun Kisumu Branch chairperson Florah Ambani.

The union's officials later went to the dispensary where Ongeri worked and learnt that he had not reported since Wednesday.

“The staff said he (Ongeri) had the keys to the drugs' store and that services at the facility had been paralysed after he went missing,” narrated Ms Ambani.

Last call

At around 3pm on Wednesday, Ongeri is reported to have called a rider who ferried him to Kiboswa Market. He is said to have told the rider he would be picked by some people.

The nurses' union officials later reached out to the Kisumu’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations, which tracked Ongeri’s mobile phone to Kaptumo in Nandi County.

According to Ambani, a search for Ongeri in Kaptumo did not yield any results.

On Saturday, a Kapsabet County Referral Hospital nurse called the union's officials and told them of a body that had been retrieved from Kimondi Forest.

“The nurse took a photo of the body and shared it with us. That’s when we confirmed that Ongeri had been murdered,” said Opetu.

According to Nandi County Police Commander Samson ole Kine, no identification documents were retrieved from the body, which has since been taken to Jaramogi Teaching and Referral Hospital. He will be buried at his home in Manga area of Kisii County.

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Kenya National Union of NursesFerdinand OngeriSeth Panyako