Body arrives at JKIA from Saudi Arabia but family refuses to pick it

Beatrice Waruguru, 21, died in unclear circumstances in Saudi Arabia. [Pkemoi Ng’enoh, Standard]

The family of 21-year-old woman who died in Saudi Arabia under unclear circumstances have refused to sign a form that allows them to collect her body.

Beatrice Waruguru’s family said they were being forced to sign the form without first ascertaining whether the body is that of their kin.

JKIA officials, however, maintained that they couldn’t allow the family to view the body at the facility, saying it was against airport policy.

Waruguru left Kenya for Saudi Arabia in February 2021, but died under unclear circumstances in December that year, with her family claiming she was tortured.

On Saturday, May 7, the family was informed that their daughter’s body had been processed for transportation from Saudi Arabia.

When Waruguru’s family arrived at the JKIA on Wednesday, May 11, they were told to first sign body-receipt forms before her remains could be handed over to them.

Waruguru’s employment representative was supposed to witness the signing of body-receipt documents.

“We were told that we could only view the body after signing the receipt documents,” said Mercy Wanjiru, the deceased’s mother.

“The body, which I’m not sure is that of my daughter, had been wrapped like a luggage. The airport officers told us to accept it and go view it at the mortuary,” she added.

Wanjiru said they won’t accept a body which isn’t their kinsperson’s.

The deceased’s friend, Mercy Wambui, said Waruguru left Kenya for Saudi Arabia shortly after completing her secondary education.

“She never told me how she secured the deal to travel to Saudi Arabia,” said Wambui.

She, however, suspects that Waruguru was directed to an employment agent by a broker.

The Association of Skilled Migrant Agencies of Kenya (ASMAK) representative, Josephine Muriuki, said they will alert authorities that Waruguru’s body arrived at the JKIA, but her family refused to collect it.

JKIA officials, who spoke to The Standard in confidence, said the airport does not have body storage facilities.

UPDATE: At around 6pm Wednesday, Waruguru’s family agreed to collect the body after signing the receipt forms, five hours after the stand-off ensued. They were not allowed to view the body on site. The Standard understands that her remains will be kept at the Kenyatta University Funeral Home.