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‘That’s enough!’ cries mother of Garissa University attack victim

CENTRAL
By Philip Muasya | Sep 12th 2015 | 4 min read
Neighbours throng the home of Peter Munyoki at Itiva Nzou village in Kitui county where police had gone to exhume a body of Garissa university student thought to have been interred there by mistake. Police investigations have shown that the body buried by Munyoki family belongs to Risper Mutindi Kasyoka from Maluma village, Kitui County while that of the family is said to be lying at Chiromo mortuary. The family declined exhumation on September 11, 2015 citing poor approach by police. (PHOTO: PHILIP MUASYA / STANDARD)

A family in Kitui County has been thrown into a fresh round of mourning after a body of a Garissa University College student, which they believed to be theirs, allegedly turned out not to be.

The family of Peter Munyoki from Itiva Nzou village, Kyuso, is, again, in emotional tatters after a team of CID police officers accompanied by Kenya Red Cross officials stormed the homestead to exhume the body, yesterday.

Their mission, however, aborted almost immediately as irate family members and neighbours told them off. The team, armed with a court order and a body bag, was on a mission to exhume the body of late Philomena Kasyoka, killed during the university terror attack on April 2, which claimed 147 lives.

Police claim the body was interred by mistake.

With her palm resting on her cheek, Beatrice Kuthi, the mother, looked at the cemented grave in tears.

Disrespectful

“That’s enough please,” she pleaded as journalists took photos. Her husband Peter Munyoki was away in South Sudan where he works.

Kasyoka, a first born in the family was only 21 when the terrorists bullets snuffed her life away. The burial was conducted in May and the family was now looking at closure.

According to police investigations, however, the body interred at the homestead belongs to another family from Maluma Village, Nzambani district in Kitui County, who are yet to find their daughter since the terror attack. A body that still lies at Chiromo Mortuary is said to belong to Munyoki’s family.

What irked the family and neighbours is what they described as “uncouth and disrespectful” manner in which the police approached them.

“It is only yesterday when the CID police sent a word through our chief to inform us they will be coming today (Friday) to take the body away. True to their word they came in the morning. We take that as an insult,” said Mr Job Kisombo, the student’s grandfather.

The old man said the right procedure was for the police to give the family ample time to digest the news and chart the way forward.

“I asked for four days to sit with my family and discuss but they ignored me,” Kisombo lamented.

Vaa vena ukola na tuyiitikila. (There is something fishy here and we won’t accept,” vowed Mzee Kisombo.

Mr Simon Wambua, an uncle to Kasyoka said they requested the police to take the girl’s parents for DNA testing to establish if the body at Chiromo was indeed their daughter’s but were rebuffed.

“Why are they rubbishing our request? If they exhume this body and take it away, what will we be left with? How can we be sure the body at Chiromo is ours, if there is a body at all?” posed Wambua.

Mr Wambua said he was among the people who identified the girl’s body and confirmed indeed it was theirs. When it appeared as if the police were bent on their mission, the neighbours threatened to sit on the grave.

“I want to assure you; if they try to use force, somebody will die here today. This process is not transparent. We read mischief,” cried Wambua.

And true to his word, the cowed police led by Kyuso OCS Simon Kiai retreated to deliberate on the next move. Mr Evans Kioko, a neighbour said if the police followed the “right procedure” there would be no problem.

“This is a community affair and we support the family. These people have just ambushed us and we find that to be distasteful. There should have been a pre-counseling session for the family,” he said.

As the heat in the homestead intensified, Mr Isaac Mutisya, father to Risper Mutindi Kasyoka whom police claim was wrongfully buried in Itiva Nzou village, watched the unfolding events from the gate. He had travelled to the homestead on police request. He told The Standard on Saturday all what the both families needed was closure, adding that he would wait for any outcome.

“It has been very traumatising for me and my family. You know I teach a girls’ school and sometimes I am overwhelmed by emotions when I look at my students yet I don’t know where my daughter is,” said Mutisya, a Mathematics teacher at Itoleka Girls.

Neighbours said the entire exhumation process would renew trauma adding that in Kamba traditions, one cannot open a grave and leave it unfilled as that would attract an instant death in the family.

The police refused to talk to the press.

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