Tussle over burial of five Ethiopian plane crash victims

Two conflicting programmes have revealed a fierce battle between a man and his son-in-law over the burial of five family members who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash seven months ago.

The Nairobi-bound flight ET 302 plunged into a field near Bishoftu on March 10 shortly after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.

All the 157 people on board died.

By yesterday evening elders from John Karanja’s side and those from his son-in-law, Paul Njoroge’s were holed up in talks on where four of the five crash victims should be buried.

Yesterday, Karanja, who lost his wife Ann Wangui, daughter Caroline Quinns and grandchildren Ryan Njoroge, (seven), Kellie Wanjiku, (five), Rubi Wangui (nine months) in the crash, announced that he would bury them today at his farm in Kabatini, Bahati Constituency, Nakuru.

But his son-in-law Paul Njoroge told The Standard he planned to bury his wife and their three children, all who lived with him in Canada prior to their death, at his farm in Kiangai, in the same Bahati Constituency on Friday.

He said the crash wiped out his entire family.

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“I only have one family; my wife and children. I loved my mother-in-law, but when it comes to burial, I am next of kin of my wife and children. I do not need an agreement with any person on their burial,” said Njoroge.

According to Njoroge, the bodies of his wife and children shall be moved from Lee Funeral Home on Friday morning. Thereafter, burial service will be conducted at the Seventh Day Adventist church in Kiangai, before they are finally buried.

He, however, said he would attend today’s burial of his mother-in-law at Kabatini, adding that talks on the matter were still on.

“Nine elders represented my son-in-law at the meeting held at my home. We are still handling the matter, as per Agikuyu traditions,” said Karanja, a former teacher.

By yesterday evening, it was still not clear whether the two sides had agreed.

Karanja’s side insists that Njoroge had not performed Kikuyu marriage rites. Njoroge was reluctant to comment on the claim.

As per Karanja’s programme, the bodies will be moved from Lee Funeral Home today morning, and taken to St Michael’s Catholic Church in Kabatini, before burial at his home.

“I shall bury my family at my home. I am certain we shall reach an agreement,” he said.

Karanja’s family had already set up a plaque in memory of the perished family members after word went out that their remains would not be recovered.

The bodies were later identified after DNA tests.

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Addis AbabaPaul NjorogeJohn KaranjaEthiopian plane crash