Family in shock as body of man, 95, goes missing from mortuary

Makueni County Referral Hospital. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

A family in Makueni has postponed the burial of a 95-year-old man over claims they had been given the wrong body.

Waema Nguku's relatives said the body Makueni County Referral Hospital mortuary management presented to them was not his.

The family which hails from Kithoni, Muvau/Kikumini, Makueni sub-county, went to the mortuary on Thursday last week for clearance.

They had purchased a coffin, wreaths and a suit for the old man and were ready to collect the body.

However, trouble started when they realised Nguku's body was missing.

The burial had been slated for Saturday and all preparations had been made. The grave had been dug and cemented.

“My father was unwell. He was taken to the same hospital for treatment and after some weeks he was discharged. He later passed on at home on September 6. The body was taken to Makueni Referral hospital morgue,” said Kamene Waema, the deceased’s last born.

She continued, “Last week on Thursday we went to the morgue to clear bills. Morgue attendants removed bodies from the shelves for identification purposes but to our disappointment, we didn’t find our father's body there.” 

The family claimed they had not received any assistance from the hospital management.

 “After they failed to show us our father's body, we left and returned on Friday for a follow-up. One of the hospital administrators asked us to pick another body for burial but we refused,” said Waema.

The body that was offered, she said, had no tag on it, had short nails, and light hair, seemingly a man of Somali origin but their father, according to the children, had white hair, and long nails.

In a turn of events, one among the families that carried out burials last week has positively identified a body in the morgue as that of their kin, and that they might have been given the wrong body.

“There is another family from Kitonyoni, Makueni constituency, which has since identified another body there as theirs; however, they have buried another body. The family has since looked at the body marks on a body there and identified it as theirs,” David Nguku, brother to the deceased told the standard

However, records from the morgue as seen by The Standard show that last week alone 12 bodies were picked for burial at various destinations. Among the 12, 5 were males.

“We made statements and the officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) instructed us to wait for their reports,” said Mr David Nguku

The hospital med sup Dr Joseph Masila said the issue was under investigation to identify which family had picked up the wrong body.

“The hospital has reached out to several families to identify which family buried the wrong body and have also asked the morgue administrators to make a report on the same so that we can dig deeper into the whole mishap,” Dr Masila said.