A close shave with a burial dispute that could have aroused ghosts of the SM Otieno case of the ’80s forced the family of late Kibra MP Ken Okoth to re-draw his burial plans.
And fear of a possible hold-out in Homa Bay should the body be moved there further sealed the redrawing of what is now turning out to be a controversial end for a man who courted little controversy in life.
Last night, it emerged that the family had settled on Kericho County as the place where the Kibra MP would be cremated. And the ceremony will be held today.
The compromise date and venue followed Thursday night long reconciliation talks hosted by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga that cleared the way for internment of the legislator who succumbed to cancer on Friday last week.
A court injunction obtained by Anne Muthoni Thumbi, a woman who claims to have a child with the MP, had thrown the internment plans into disarray on Thursday.
“It was agreed that every obstacle to Ken’s resting be cleared and that he be given his last respects. Taking the body to Homa Bay came with all potential for possible tension,” a source at the heart of the decision told Saturday Standard.
Plans to have Okoth’s body transported to his father’s rural home in Homa Bay County were cancelled during the night meeting. No one was sure what would happen after the body had been taken to the county.
Yesterday’s decision was a culmination of two days of high voltage drama at the end of which Raila put his foot down and demanded compromises from the two sides to offset the budding embarrassment.
“Ken’s body will be cremated tomorrow. There will be no function in Homa Bay and we have told the area MP and Governor about the cancellation,” lawyer Edwin Sifuna told the media at the Lee Funeral Home.
Sifuna also said the decision to have the body interred today was to avoid unnecessary delay and to keep to the wishes of the deceased.
Earlier in the day, Sifuna alongside lawyer Danstan Omari had announced that a compromise had been reached between Okoth’s family and Ms Thumbi.
The consent which was also filed with the court to offset the earlier order entailed DNA sampling of Okoth’s and his alleged child by Ms Thumbi. While Okoth’s family had agreed to DNA, Ms Thumbi had agreed to the internment plans proceeding as planned.
The consent was recorded before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Grace Mmasi: “The minor be at liberty to participate in the final rights of the late Kenneth Okoth,” ruled Mmasi.
The two lawyers later turned up at Lee Funeral Home to oversee collection of DNA samples from Okoth’s body ahead of interment today.
Thumbi had gone to court on Thursday to seek orders to stop the cremation, claiming she had been excluded from taking part in the rites. The court had directed that the disposal of the body be suspended until August 9 when the case would proceed.
But in pushing for the consent, Okoth’s lawyers told the court that Ken’s mother had said Thumbi is at liberty to collect DNA samples so that the burial could proceed as she wished.
The lawyers told the court the body should not be kept in the mortuary for so long just because of the DNA issue but added the tests were necessary since the deceased family was not willing to accept the child without it.
“Thumbi’s family appointed a pathologist who has been here. We also had our pathologist and DNA samples have been obtained,” Sifuna said.
Thumbi was also present at Lee yesterday with her son.
Today’s event is expected to be low key and will only be attended by close family members and few invited friends. Kericho has a crematorium in the outskirts of the town.
Meanwhile, the civil society has eulogised Okoth as a man who championed the fundamental human rights of Kenyans. At a memorial service held at the Freedom Corner in Nairobi, the civil society said the late MP should be remembered for championing the rights of the Nubii people and for promoting education.