Family opens up over mysterious roof along the Kisumu-Busia road

Jessica Emungu's house was demolished and the roof abandoned along the Kisumu-Kisian road. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Seven years ago, Jessica Emungu lost her husband marking the beginning of her tribulations. 

Emungu, 58, is the owner of a roof abandoned at Kisian along the Kisumu-Busia road, which has been the talk of the town for the better part of the decade.

For the first time, the mother of six has opened up over the circumstances that led her to be jailed, culminating in her losing her job. Her husband’s body has also been in the mortuary for seven years as she battled for a piece of land that was meant to be the burial site.

Even though she has finally laid her husband to rest, she regrets that the seven years she has been fighting for the land could have been put to better use.

Emungu says her agony began in May 2014 when her husband Barrack Ogada died. They both worked at a tea plantation in Tinderet when he fell ill and died a few days later. 

“When my husband died, I contacted the family and we arranged to bring the body home for burial,” said Emungu.

During the funeral ceremony at their Korando home in Kisumu West, police officers stopped the burial and informed the family that they had trespassed on someone’s property.

They claimed a Mr James Onunga was the owner of the land which he had acquired from Ogada and his father, Francis Ago.

Jessica Emungu's family recently won a land case that has been in court for seven years. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The officers took the body back to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary, leaving the family in a dilemma.

According to Sospeter Omondi, Ogada’s third-born son, when the officers took the body back to the morgue, they booked him with a different name and said he had been recovered from an accident scene.

When they went to collect the body, they were instructed to follow certain procedures since it had become a police case. 

They filed a case in court seeking to have the body, and in March 2017, they got a go-ahead to have the body released for burial.

They paid the over Sh400,000 mortuary bill and proceeded to bury the body. But two months later, Emungu was summoned to court and jailed for a month after admitting to burying her husband on the land.

Officers came to the site with court orders and exhumed the body, taking it back to the morgue.

“I did not know there was a court order barring me from burying my husband on the land,” she said.

During the exhumation, their house was demolished and the roof abandoned at the site.

Emungu spent a month at Kodiaga Prison only to discover that her husband’s body had been taken back to the morgue. Meanwhile, her contract at the tea picking estate had been terminated.

The roof was abandoned along the Kisumu-Kisian road. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

But on June 9, this year, the family won the case as the court declared they were the legal owners of the land. The family was finally able to bury their father seven years after his death. 

“The mortuary attendants just arranged the bones and had them wrapped in a blanket since his body had already decomposed, and placed them in a coffin,” Omondi says.

The mortuary waived the Sh650,000 mortuary fee, which had accrued over the seven years.

Omondi, who was seven years old when his father died, is now 15 and is expected to join Form One next month.

Onunga’s house, which was under construction, stands next to Emungu’s,  a silent testimony to what the Ogada family has endured.