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VAS

Mureithi’s family camped at the Visa Oshwal centre for five days in the hope of finding him alive

COUNTIES
By ABIGAEL SUM | September 29th 2013

By ABIGAEL SUM

It took Michael Wamugunda and other relatives three days of uncertainty and worry to trace his brother Paul Mureithi.

Wamugunda says he heard of the Westgate siege early afternoon at his home along Thika Road, which prompted him to call his brother. Several hours later and no calls answered, he decided to find his way to the city and look for him.

“At about 6pm and several calls later I was very worried. I therefore started to search for him at Guru Nanak, Aga Khan, MP Shah, Nairobi and Kenyatta hospitals. I even visited the morgue to no success,” he says.

As for Mureithi’s son Samuel Muriuki, he left work in Voi at the Kenya Wildlife Service station where he works as a ranger because of fear and unease when his call to his dad never went through.

“I heard of the Westgate terror attack on radio and had to frantically find a place with a strong mobile network signal to call him since he frequents the mall. After calling several times with no answer, I called my sister only to find that she was facing the same predicament,” narrates Muriuki.

   Frantic search

It was at this point that he decided to travel to Nairobi on Saturday night to trace his father.

On getting to the city on Sunday, the frantic search for his dad gained momentum as he joined his uncle and sisters.

They set up camp at the Visa Oshwal Centre where they made their way to every daybreak, extending the search to the City Mortuary.

This became a routine for the next two days.

On the fateful Saturday morning, Mureithi, who worked as a driver, is said to have dropped off his boss, a foreigner, at the entrance of the Westgate Mall where he was going for shopping. 

Mureithi then headed to the first floor where he is believed to have met his death.

Wamugunda said when his brother’s  boss was rescued on Saturday evening, he was looking forward to being re-united with him.  Two other women who were rescued the following day renewed his hope of finding him alive.

Muriuki was overcome by grief when he tried to narrate the events that led to finding his father’s body.

“For the two days we were searching for him, I had hoped that I would find him alive, that he was among those who had survived the attack. I followed every ambulance that left the Westgate Mall expecting he would be in one of them,” he said unable to hold back tears.

He says last talked to his father on Thursday when he called to check up on how he was doing  and promised to call back during the weekend.

The anguished search for Mureithi, a husband and father of three ended at the City Mortuary on Tuesday.

Wamugunda,  while at the City Mortuary for what had become a routine, came across Mureithi’s body lying at the morgue after three days of intense searching.

“I looked at the bodies lying there and I identified him. We had been looking for him among the living only to find him dead. I had no idea how to break the news of his death to my parents, his family and other relatives,” said an emotional Wamugunda.

   Loving father

His son and daughters will forever fondly remember him as a loving father who was always there for them.

“Whenever one of us was in trouble, he would come in and help without any hesitation. I used to come home from Voi and we would go somewhere to chat and relax while having drinks. We will greatly miss his advice because he really gave us good ones,” said Muriuki.

The family says it is grateful to the Asian community for feeding them while they camped at Visha Oshwal for three days.

They however say they are yet to receive any communication as to whether the government will assist them with funeral arrangements.

“The government has done a great job so far and we are grateful for helping out with the morgue fees. We are not aware of any arrangements but according to the Kenya Red Cross and the government they are to assist us. There is no standard procedure and we are yet to receive any communication,” said Michael.

Murethi was to chair a family meeting this weekend. He will be laid to rest in home in Kieni East, Nyeri County on Wednesday.

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