A team of DNA experts at Yala sub-county Hospital Mortuary in Siaya County after collecting samples from the bodies retrieved in River Yala. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

There was a glimmer of hope for families whose kin went missing after two bodies found in River Yala were successfully identified after a DNA test.

Authorities further allowed the two families to pick the remains of their kin from Yala sub-county morgue for burial.

Despite visually identifying their relative, the families had to wait longer following a directive for the DNA tests by the government to avoid confusion of burying a wrong body. Postmortem was also done to ascertain the cause of death for each body.

The bodies that were identified were those of Philemon Chepkwony and Peter Mutuku which were retrieved from River Yala in December after they disappeared on their way from Nairobi.

A third family from Busia County that had claimed one of the bodies as their kin was unlucky after DNA results failed to match.

The identification of the two bodies gave families with missing relatives hope of finding their loved ones.

Raised concern

It will help solve the puzzle of identifying the remains most of which are in pieces that are stuffed in sacks.

Residents of Yala and human rights activists had raised concerns over bodies retrieved from the river.

They said for months bodies have been dumped in the waters which they have been using for domestic uses. It’s still unclear who are the people being dumped there, or who was dumping them.

Gem Deputy County Commissioner Charles Chacha yesterday told The Standard that the DNA process is still ongoing as more families visit the mortuary to identify the bodies.

“We took their numbers and samples and kept them. Every time a family shows up to identify a body, we use the samples to help them. So the other bodies apart from the two that have been dispatched for burial are still in our custody at the mortuary in Yala,” said Chacha.

Further, he said security had been beefed up in Yala town especially around the bridge where it was reported that the bodies were dumped from.

He said there was a police road block every day as from 4pm till the morning specifically to guard the river Yala area.

A team of forensic experts from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), pathologists, human remains identification team and DNA sampling experts had been dispatched to Yala mortuary to help with the identification process.

A local diver, Nicholas Okero who has been helping the police with retrieving the bodies claimed he has recovered 30 bodies since last August.

Okero noted that most bodies were packed in sacks which were tightly sewn, while others had ropes tied around their necks and others had fingers severed.

However, the National Police Service has denied the bodies were retrieved since August and claimed they had accumulated over the last two years.

River Yala