Mysterious death of Kakamega teacher on a school trip

The family of Joan Okutoyi Olumasai, a teacher at Junior Academy, Manyulia who went missing and was later found dead. [Brian Kisanji, Standard]
Last Friday, Joan Okutoyi Olumasai, 42, a teacher at Junior Academy in Butere, accompanied other teachers and 63 pupils on a trip to Eldoret. It was a typical day, nothing unusual.

Hours later, however, Ms Olumasai was reported missing and on Saturday, her body was found at a morgue in Eldoret.

Her family in Manyulia, Butere sub-county is in agony as they seek answers on the circumstances under which their kin died.

Events leading to Olumasai's death remain unclear as the school management reported that everything was going on well until they reached Eldoret at about 10am on Friday.

During the signing in of the pupils at an animal park, they were asked to leave behind food stuff and soft drinks that they were carrying.

Olumasai, who is also the school’s deputy head teacher, offered to return the luggage to the school bus parked a few metres from the park's gate.

She left the other group as they entered the facility leaving her handbag and phone with one of the nine teachers who were guiding the pupils.

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Olumasai did not return and the luggage she had never reached the school bus.

An alarm was raised at 5.00pm when it become apparent that Olumasai was nowhere to be seen.

The school management said efforts to search her bore no fruits and the rest of the team had to leave Eldoret without her.

Philister Okutoyi, the Olumasai's mother, said she suspected something bad may have happened to her daughter when she inquired about her whereabouts from a colleague and neighbour, but did not get a clear answer.

The family, not knowing that Olumasai's phone was with a fellow teacher, tried to reach the missing kin but no one was picking the calls. This prompted them to go the school at Manyulia market.

After camping at the school gate for hours, the family was informed that Olumasai went missing during the trip and efforts to find her were futile.

"We were forced to shout and confront the management as no one was receiving our call and the teachers present kept telling us to wait for the head teacher,” said Okutoyi.

Olumasai's husband, Francis Akhonya who was in Magadi town, made an impromptu journey to Eldoret that night to find out the whereabouts of his wife.

"The watchman at the gate directed me to the top management who told me to go to the police as they had the answers," said Akhonya.

On Saturday morning, he went to the police station where he was informed that the body of a woman had been brought to St Luke's mortuary in Eldoret moments earlier by the police.

According to police, his wife's  body was discovered Friday night inside a toilet at the park.

The body had no visible injuries and was found lying on the floor.

The circumstances of the teacher's movement from the gate to the toilet is not clear with the family now demanding answers from the school.

Both the family and school say the teacher was healthy on the morning she left for the trip.

The family questioned why the school management did not raise alarm when their deputy head teacher failed to return with the rest of the team from the trip.

"How can the school lose a teacher and not make an effort to search for her hours after she went missing?"posed Jadida Okutoyi, Olumasai's.

During the visit at the family home, family members including the husband had travelled to Eldoret to witness a postmortem on the body.

The school head teacher David Khalelwa said they were awaiting the postmortem report before commenting on the case.

Khalelwa, however, was quick to diffuse the family claims that the school acted poorly in ensuring the safety of their teacher.

“We could have not reported a missing person only hours after she went missing as the law has set time before such reports can be made,” said Khalelwa.

This is the school’s second deputy head teacher to die in a span of a year after another died in a road accident in July 2018.

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Junior AcademyButereManyuliaEldoret trip