School in a spot after two pupils drown in river

Residents of Homa Bay County watch the scene a of accident where a truck carrying sugarcane plunged into River Arujo along Homa Bay Rodi –Rongo road. [James Omoro, Standard] 

Families of two Grade Three pupils who drowned after allegedly being send home for school levies are demanding justice.

The children, identified as Jim Paul Juma, 9, and Peter Ochieng, 10, drowned in River Arujo, Obambo, Homa Bay sub-county on Wednesday evening.

The pupils of Lieta Kabunde Primary School had reported to school but were allegedly send back home for levies.

Later in the afternoon, the children's bodies were recovered after drowning in the flooded river.

Jim's mother Hilder Juma, said the school wanted her to pay Sh1,000.

She said she had paid Sh200 but the management insisted that the balance must be cleared.

“The school told me to pay the levy yet I do not understand what it is meant for,” Juma said.

Ms Juma blamed the school for failing to contact her before sending her son home.

“My son went to school but I was shocked he was found dead in the river after being sent home. Why couldn’t the school management call me before sending my son back home? I need an explanation,” she said.

Ochieng's father Samson Nyong’o, accused the school of introducing unnecessary levies which hinder education of children from poor families in the area.

“This is not the first time children of this school are sent home for the levies. It is very sad that I have lost my son because of the levies,” Nyong’o said.

He accused the school of being economical with truth on how the children ended up in the river.

“I tried to speak to the school but it seems they are distancing themselves from it. We need justice as a family,” he said.

The school head teacher Cosmas Nyore declined the comment on the matter and Instead, The Standard to the sub-county Director of Education.

“The sub-county Director of Education already has the comprehensive information. Kindly talk to her about this incident,” Nyore said.

However, the sub-county Director of Education Ziada Osano said she could not comment on the matter on phone.

Homa Bay sub-county Police Commander Peter Maluki said they had begun investigations into the incident.

“The information we have is that the children were swimming. But we are going on with investigations into the matter,” Maluki said.