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Family mourns death of slain KDF officer in the Westgate Mall attack

By By JAMES OMORO | September 25th 2013
The late Jacktone Poudi in an earlier photo taken in 2009. Jacktone died in the line of duty during the Westgate attack. [PHOTO: JAMES OMORO/STANDARD]


Jacktone Puodi, 27, was in the contingent of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) that was battling terrorists who attacked the Westgate Mall on Saturday, killing over 60 shoppers.

Puodi responded to the call to duty, putting his life on the line to help free terrified hostages who included children like his one year-old girl.

The gallant soldier was sadly killed in the terrorist attack, just about four years into his career as a soldier. He had graduated from Moi Barracks in Eldoret in 2009.

He is among the three KDF soldiers involved in the Westgate Mall rescue operations that authorities reported succumbed to their injuries.

On Tuesday, a sombre mood engulfed his home in Homabay County on receiving the news of their son’s death.

News of death

With the incident having taken place in Nairobi, the effects of the terrorist attack started trickling down to rural areas with Katuma Village in Homa Bay District receiving the news of the death of their beloved son who was out to serve the nation.

Dressed in their combat gear, the KDF soldiers put the country first before their own lives in a bid to defend Kenyan territory, which had been invaded by members of the Al-Shabab terror gang.

He has left behind a widow Esther Onyango, and a one-year-old daughter Tekla Onyango who were living with him in Nairobi.

Yesterday morning, men and women wailed as they thronged the soldier’s home to console family members after the loss of their son, whom they fondly referred to as ‘Jalweny’ meaning soldier.

Jacktone’s elder brother Christopher Puodi said news of the death reached them on Monday evening, the day when KDF soldiers were said to have taken control of all the floors of the Westgate Mall.

It was the day when a statement from the Department of Defence indicated that 11 personnel had been shot and wounded by terrorists.

“We did not believe our ears when my youngest sister was told by Jackton’s neighbour that he had passed away. We sent four family members to Nairobi where they confirmed him dead yesterday morning,” said Christopher.

Contrary to the Government stance that no Kenyan officers perished in the attack, the family was shocked to hear about the death of their loved one.

The family received the message with profound grief and sorrow, which paralysed all their businesses.

“We were living comfortably because the Government had earlier assured Kenyans that none of the KDF officers had been killed in the attack. I am traumatised by the occurrence,” said Kezia Odhiambo, the late Jacktone’s sister in- law.

The soldier’s death hit the family hard, owing to the fact that he was the breadwinner on whom they all depended on for livelihood.

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Ex-soldiers salute forces for operation
Retired military and police officers have sent a congratulatory message to security agents who have been handling the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi.
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