Pallbearers carry the casket of Anthony Waswa from a helicopter.

Anxiety and grief overwhelmed mourners during the hurried burial of Antony Waswa, the younger brother of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi.

Waswa, 48, was the personal assistant to Mr Wanyonyi. He died at the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi where he had been admitted for a week.

Only 60 people were allowed into the compound in his Mukhweya village home, Kabuchai constituency, with seats placed 2.5 metres apart.

His compound was surrounded by police officers, who ensured only invited family members went past the gate, where a team of medical personnel were also stationed.

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About 100 metres from the burial site, there were 10 medical staff all wearing protective gear to receive the body once the helicopter carrying it touched down. One of them was fumigating the compound.

The body arrived at 11.23am. Senator Wetang’ula and Wanyonyi received the body and the casket was lowered straight into the grave. The chopper was also fumigated before it lifted off.

The Standard learnt that about 10 senators, who were meant to accompany the body, did not travel to Bungoma as their helicopter was denied clearance by the government to take off from Wilson Airport.

The brief service was conducted by Fr Christopher Wanyonyi of Christ the King Cathedral, Catholic Diocese of Bungoma. He was assisted by Fr Protus Wosyanzu of Cheptais Parish.

Some of the dignitaries who attended the burial included Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza MP), John Waluke (MP Sirisia), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma Women Rep), Stanley Tarus (Trans Nzoia Deputy Governor) and Patrick Wangamati (former nominated MP).

Last encounter

Wetangula (left) and Wanyonyi (in wheelchair) with family members at the funeral.

In the eulogy, Wanyonyi said on May 9, after distributing foodstuffs and hand sanitisers to vulnerable families in his constituency, the two parted ways and agreed to meet the following day.

“The following day I didn’t see him. I reached him on phone and he told me he was not feeling well. We agreed to meet later in the evening,” said Wanyonyi.

“On May 11, I talked to him in the morning and he said he had been admitted at Ngara Medical Centre. When his condition worsened, I took him to Aga Khan Hospital for specialised treatment. On Friday, my sister informed me that my brother had died.”

Wanyonyi denied that Waswa died from COVID-19 related illness. However, they opted not to carry out a postmortem examination and buried him in line with the government’s directive to bury the dead within 48 hours.

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Lost an icon

Wetang’ula said he learnt of his brother’s ailment while at the burial of Tecla Karanja, the daughter of Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja in Naivasha.

“My brother (Wanyonyi) talked to me while I was in Naivasha and I told him to take Waswa to hospital. When my brother got an accident, the late Waswa left the hotel business he was running and told me he would go and take care of him. He has been his PA, security and everything. We have lost an icon and we don’t know how to fill his gap,” said Wetang’ula.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the family the helicopter that carried the body and that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka condoled with the family.