Mourning gripped Kamunyu village in Gatundu South in Kiambu during the burial of three family members who perished after a building under construction collapsed in Kirigiti, Kiambu County.
Tears were flowing freely as family members and mourners tried to come to terms with the tragedy as the hearse pulling a trolley loaded with three coffins snaked into the family land.
The cortege snaked from Kenyatta University funeral home making a spectacle before joining Kenyatta Road and to the family compound in Gatundu.
The hearse was met by wailing family members and other mourners as the sound system tried to serenade the field with music in to calm the emotions.
The three white coffins were placed in a tent decorated with white wreaths with the victims’ portraits placed at the front.
The funeral was an all-white event: all the tents, flowers and the altar were all white, contrasting with the family black dresses, t-shirts and trousers.
Mary Wanjiru and her two sons Carrick Mwania and Tyler Karanu died on September 26, 202,2 when an adjacent storey building that was under construction collapsed.
Mary’s Mother Jane Nyambura was inconsolable as the pallbearers wheeled the caskets from the hearse to the tents, every attempt to console her futile as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Kiambu Governor Kimani wa Matangi, his deputy Rose Kirika, Woman Rep Ann Wamuratha and MP Gabriel Kagombe were all in attendance.
Speaker after speaker condemned the developer of the building and the Kiambu County building inspectorate for what they unanimously called gross negligence.
A teary Wamatangi said that the developer was squarely to blame as well as the county department concerned.
“The ill-fated building was a few yards from the county headquarters, it is ridiculous that no one took note of the haphazard [work] going on at the heart of Kiambu town,” Wamatangi said.
The governor added that he was told that the developer had been asked to stop the building but had refused and actually added six storeys which culminated in the disaster.
“The house was not even given time to cure bricks and mortar. Henceforth developers will have to follow stringent rules in Kiambu even as we welcome development. One life lost is one too many,” Wamatangi said.
Jotted down a Bible verse
The governor said that the county officials who allowed the building to continue will have to answer and cautioned them that pocketing a few hundred or thousands [of shillings] at the expense of human life will not be tolerated.
Wamatangi would later show the mourners and the family an exercise book he retrieved from Wanjiru’s house with the previous Sunday church reading and the notes she had written.
He read for the mourners Wanjiru’s verse of the day from the book of Jeremiah which was greeted with tears by the mourners.
Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe said that the thirst and greed for easy riches by some developers will have to come to an end in Kiambu.
The MP added that it was tragic that Wanjiru and her children were killed when they were a few yards from the ill-fated house.
Call for action
“The developers must know that the houses they build are not meant to be charcoal houses, nor sheep houses but houses for human beings,” Kagombe said.
Susan Thuo from Zawadi School where Carrick Mwania, one of the sons schooled, said that it was a great loss for the institution’s community.
“We are very sad that Mary and her children died a few meters from our school and indeed a lot of debris from the ill-fated house was scattered in our school compound as the house tumbled down. Little did we know that some of the victims were people well known to us and people that were part of our school community,” Mrs Thuo said.
Evanson Nganga, a man who worked with Mary Wanjiru, described her as a faithful woman in her daily dealings and a woman who loved her boys so much.
Nganga said that Mary used to be in the hospitality industry before joining her at a car bazaar along Kiambu Road.
“We call upon relevant authorities to take stern action on the culprits. Their negligence has occasioned too much pain on us, family and friends,” Nganga said.
Mary Wanjiru was born in 1993 and schooled at Gitahruru Primary School before joining Uceke Girls High School and eventually at the NIBS college where she did a secretarial course.
Mary first-born child Carrick Mwania born on May 23, 2013, followed by Tyler Karanu on May 19, 2020.