Did they have to die? Kin mourn their loved ones killed in protests

Kisii residents pray at Capital Round About after lighting candles in honour of police brutality victims. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

As political bigwigs, hardliners and foreign partners mull over solutions to ease ongoing feud between the opposition and the government over the high cost of living, tens of families who lost their loves ones, are struggling with deep pain as they plan burials.

For some, the pain has pushed them into depression after losing their only hope of a better life through the fatal protests. Some of the deceased were bread winners of their families while others were young people and students with a bright future ahead of them.

That dream, however, was cut shot by the barrel of a gun, leaving behind heartbroken parents, spouses and orphaned children.

In Nyanza, up to 15 families are preparing for burial of their deceased kin plucked out of their midst at their prime.

Majority victims succumbed to gunshot wounds while others died from knife and arrow wounds as Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition protests turned deadly.

At Nyawita estate in Kisumu, the family of Fanuel Ochieng, an 18-year-old teenager who succumbed to gunshot wounds, is still in pain. Their dream of taking their son to college to pursue a course in plant engineering crumbled last week after he was shot.

According to Mark Okello, his son’s death has devastated his family. His wife and mother of Fanuel is still psychologically disturbed and has not uttered a word since their son died.

He described his son as a disciplined and dependable boy who was his hope to improve their lives prior to his sudden death.

“It really pains me knowing he is dead but there is nothing I can do. He finished his secondary education last year and I was already working on plans to take him to college. He wanted to study plant engineering. He was very passionate about it,” said Okello.

The family has planned to transport his body to their rural home in Sagam village, Gem sub-county, Siaya County on August 4. He will be buried on August 5.

Okello said he is struggling to raise funds for funeral expenses. “I am appealing to any well-wisher to help me ferry the body of my son home,” he said.

On the fateful day, the deceased had gone to his aunt’s place at Manyatta estate to play football. On his way back home, he was allegedly shot by a police officer.

The family claims the officer who shot him tried to drag his body to an open sewer but residents chased him away.

In Migori, another family preparing to admit their son to college is also in agony as they embark on burial plans.

Reagan Otieno, 21, was shot dead on July 7 as police dispersed protesters. Yesterday, Caroline Atieno told The Standard she was still yet to accept that her son is no more. She claims she struggles to sleep and wonders why her son had to die in such a manner.

“I was at home when I received a report that he had been shot. His death has affected the whole family,” Ms Atieno said.

She described Reagan as a polite boy who never looked for trouble and was not part of the protests. By the time of his death, he was waiting to join campus.

His mother said he always volunteered at a local church and was looking forward to giving back to the society.

Witnesses claim Reagan was hit by a stray bullet at Posta grounds during demonstrations while seated at a verandah.

In the same area, the family of 19-year-old Steve Okinyi is struggling with a double-tragedy after the grandfather also passed on after his shooting. The family said his grandfather died of shock after receiving news of his killing.

Okinyi will be buried on August 8. He was a student of Rabuor Kogello Secondary School and had just returned home to collect school fees.

He was first admitted to Oruba Nursing Home before being transferred to a private hospital in Migori town where he succumbed to his injuries.

His body was later moved to Migori County Referral Hospital’s morgue.

Yesterday, his father, Cavine Ochieng was in tears as he recounted the last moments he had with his son. “My son’s death was untimely. On that day, he stepped out at 11am and after 30 minutes we got information that he has been shot. He was shot on the thigh and his blood vessels were raptured,” said Ochieng.

He said they now have the burden of two burials and appealed for support.

Okinyi will be buried on August 8.

In Nyamasaria, the family of Joel Owino is yet to come to terms with his demise. Unlike other victims who had bullet wounds, Owino was killed by thugs during demonstrations.

On the fateful day, he had left his house to seek medical attention for tuberculosis. He had been diagnosed a day earlier but was unable to buy drugs.

As his condition worsened, he opted to brave through the protests and blocked roads to access a health facility.

However, he was murdered on his way back home by suspected thugs, who stabbed him several times. He has left behind a wife and three children, who have been left partial orphans.

In Nakuru, the family of a Nakuru man killed during the protests, is yet to bury him days after the incident.

The family of Benjamin Imbi yesterday said they are still waiting for a post-mortem for his body to ascertain cause of death.

They say they had earlier opted to bury him but the police insisted on a post-mortem first. “We are yet to bury him, the police insisted a post-mortem has to be conducted,” said Elizabeth Andami.

Christopher Herman said the incident was unfortunate and the killing of their brother was a big loss. He said the deceased’s body had a bullet hole in the head.

“We only appeal for help to accord him a decent burial,” he said.

As the families mourned their loved ones, others had their lost all their property.  

[Reports by Clinton Ambujo, Anne Atieno and Julius Chepkwony]