Anxiety as DCI probes team over Likoni Channel ferry deaths

The Likoni tragedy car is pulled out of the Indian Ocean on Friday evening. Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu's bodies were retrieved from the wreckage. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A criminal probe got under way yesterday over the September 29 ferry tragedy that led to the death of a mother and her daughter at the Likoni channel.

The coxswain Mv Harambee, Amos Bushuru, and two other employees of the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) and two private security guards were grilled by investigators from the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Yesterday, Mariam Kighenda’s widower John Wambua said the retrieved car was in parking gear and the handbrake engaged, dismissing the theory that his wife could have accidentally engaged the reverse gear.

“The car was in parking gear and its handbrake up. We do not understand how the car in such a state could have slid into the ocean,” said Wambua in a phone interview, adding that bodies of his wife and child were under police custody awaiting a post-mortem to be done tomorrow (Monday), upon which a burial date will be picked.

Detectives have also taken a picture of the car and their report corroborates Wambua’s. “So far we have questioned five people; two private security guards who were at the ferry on the said day, a coxswain and two top ferry managers,” said Likoni OCPD Benjamin Rotich.

KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa, however, said he had not been summoned or questioned by the police and was not aware of a police investigation.

Yesterday, Government Spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna also hinted on the start of a criminal probe but warned that, “we should not be quick to apportion blame.”

He also ruled out the possible establishment of a divers team by KFS, saying it was not “economical given that Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Navy are adjacent to the channel.”

He, however, said the institution’s safety department will re-train its officials to avert future accidents at the crossing.

“KFS does not have divers unit. It does not need to because it is not economical given that accidents are rare. The last one occurred 25 years ago,” he said.