After 14 years of pain, we deserve to have our son’s remains, family tells police

Mr Chege Njoroge and the wife Naomi Wambui, parents of the police Constable Peter Kamau, who was working at Doldol Anti-stock theft Unit and whose body was later found in Marmanet forest narrate how their son disappeared from his work station 10 yeas down the line [PHOTO:BONIFACE THUKU/STANDARD]

A partially open grave at 86-year-old Chege Njoroge’s homestead in Naishi, Njoro, Nakuru County remains the only reminder of his son, Peter Kamau, a police officer,  who died 14 years ago.

The weight of the mystery surrounding his son’s disappearance and subsequent death have taken a heavy toll on the elderly man. Expectations were high in the family that their fortunes would change for the better after Kamau was posted to the Doldol Anti-Stock Theft Unit Patrol  base in Laikipia county  after he completed his training at Kiganjo Police College, Nyeri.

But the young man’s parents were heart broken after they learnt that Kamau,  then 25, had gone missing in 2001, two years after his posting. The day his father was asked to accompany officers to identify a body that had been found in Marmanet Forest, Laikipia County, 14 years ago, marked the beginning of an agonising period for the family.

Documents, including Kamau’s police notebook and a copy of his national identity card, were found beside the badly mutilated body.

After taking photographs at the scene, detectives collected the body and gave the family the go-ahead to start making arrangements to have Kamau buried at his parent’s home in Nakuru County.

“The body was in a bad state. The parts were put in a small sack by CID officers who took it away together with the documents and a pair of trousers. We were then allowed to proceed with the funeral preparations,” Njoroge recalls.

But  a day before the burial, five police officers led by an Inspector, visited the home and asked the family to stop  funeral arrangements until further notice.

“We were taken aback as we had already prepared the grave and were ready to go and collect his remains for burial,” the officer’s cousin, Bernard Kamau, says. However, there has been no communication since then. The officer’s mother, Naomi Wambui, says all they want is for the Government to explain what happened to their son or surrender his remains for burial.

“Even his personal property, including clothes and household goods, were not surrendered to the family and the police service, which he served with dedication, has gone quiet,” the mother added.

His elder brother Stephen Njenga, said that after the burial was stopped they were taken round in circles and referred from one government office to another until they gave up.

“The police said the burial could not proceed before a DNA test had been conducted and it became complicated as the government chemist didn’t have the equipment to extract DNA from his bones because there were no tissues,” Njenga adds.

He recalls that the Government promised to have the remains taken to South Africa for the DNA extraction only for the family to later learn that this never happened.

Njenga said he was able to identify that  the body was his brother’s from the skull and dental formula which were intact, particularly the upper jaw.

“When we learnt that he had disappeared and made inquiries at his last osting, we were taken round in circles. At one time the officers said he had disappeared, only to later claim he had deserted duty,” he adds.

Nakuru County police commander Hassan Barua, when contacted for comment, said he was not aware of the case of the missing officer and decline to comment.

"I am not aware and I cannot comment since the officer did not come from the area under my jurisdiction," Barua said on phone.

The family is still trying to come to terms with their loss. Though time is said to be a healer, the pain of losing a son in mysterious circumstances and the bizarre chain of events surrounding this death is a cause for constant pain for the family.

“He was not even married at the time of his death. His future was bright and I expected a lot from him. We had hoped he would buy some land so we could    relocate from this rocky area. He was the last born and was to look after me in my old age,” Njoroge says.

The family has sought the help of a human rights lobby, Futa Magendo Action Network, to retrieve the corpse. The group wrote to the National Police Service Commission, the Inspector General of Police and the Independent Police Oversight Authority  last month but is yet to receive a response. “What is shocking is that the government has not paid dues to the parents who are the next of kin, neither have they communicated to the family  to enable them to decide what to do,” says the Executive coordinator James Mugo in the letter copied to the Interior Cabinet Secretary and the Commission on Administrative Justice (ombudsman).

The family wants Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett to help them find their son’s body  so that he can be accorded a decent burial. “I have seen other police officers being given full honours, including gun salutes when they die. Why was the issue surrounding my son treated differently?” Njoroge poses.

The family fears there could be a  cover-up regarding the death and have asked for his body to bring closure to this  sad chapter.