By DAVID OCHAMI

Today 29 years ago, Kenya awoke to the news of a coup de tat staged by junior officers of the Kenya Air Force.

But the families of officers who were hanged while in jail are demanding justice to be done. They are looking for documentation relating to the deaths of their loved ones to enable them inherit the property they owned before the coup failed.

The plotters had formed a military junta - the Peoples Redemption Council (RPC) - chaired by Senior Private Hezekiah Rabala Ochuka with Senior Private Pancras Oteyo Okumu as his deputy.

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For the family of Ochuka, there is yet to be a closure to this matter in the legal and cultural sense.

"There were rumours that the families of others who were hanged with him received their clothes. We did not receive anything," laments Robert Onyango Akuro, Ochuka’s nephew whose relentless search for his uncle’s legacy and legal status finally took him before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) last month.

Ochuka’s memory has been sustained in his rural Nyakach District by fables and myths of when and how this man was actually hanged. Others hanged with Ochuka, who would be 58 years today, included Injene Injeremani, Miraso Odawa, Odira Ojode and Odera Obedi Chesoli.

Ochuka and Okumu were extradited from Tanzania in 1983. The other PRC members were captured in Nairobi and around the country on diverse dates after the August 2 1982 coup attempt.

On July 18 Akuro, whose memory of Private Ochuka is derived from his brief encounters with his uncle and tales by his father Enock Akuro, emerged to publicly ask the Government for information on the matter.

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He recounted the ordeal the family has gone through in their determination for a full disclosure on Ochuka, how he was extradited from Tanzania and how they can get legal proof of death in order to perform cultural death rites and pursue the deceased’s estate or transfer his assets.

"Upto now we are waiting for the document (proving he was hanged)," he told The Standard. He says the execution was done at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison "around mid 1985."

Some family members even "cling to the hope that Ochuka is alive." However, Akuro believes Ochuka was hanged based on information smuggled by a warder at Kamiti in 1985.

"According to our customs we are supposed to give him a burial and there are some rituals which must be done."

According to Akuro during his brief exile, Ochuka maintained contact with the family through an uncle - Were who then lived in Tanzania.

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But some relatives invented rumours that Ochuka actually left jail and was living in Tanzania. There also have been phantom tales about sightings of Ochuka. Akuro claims the family has been a victim of profiteering by human rights agencies.

coup justice military death