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Fact check: Did Kisii family drive to graduation in a hearse?

By Sigomba Ramadhan Omar | December 21st 2019
A screengrab of the viral fake news report authored by Sasha Kapur. [Standard Digital]

What was your reaction when you read that a graduand collapsed when her family turned up to her graduation in a hearse?

Well, no such event happened at Kisii University as falsely reported.

The Standard Fact Check desk has established that the allegation, which has been widely circulated on social networking platforms, is false.

The egregious false claim said the lady, Ephie Moraa, was hospitalised on Friday, December 20, after losing consciousness when her entire village turned up at her convocation in a hearse.

It was reported that her entire village of 15 people came from Suneka. Suneka is a township roughly some 34 minutes from Kisii town via Rongo/Kisii road.

As if to be precise, the unfounded report added that the incident happened at exactly 8.22 am.

The misinformation was started by the blog Kenya-Today who accompanied it with an image of a lady they lifted off the internet. It was amplified across dozens of blogs who profit from fake news.

Moraa was purportedly to graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree.

We checked the official 7th Kisii University Graduation booklet and there was no one named Ephie Moraa among the 5,110 graduands.

15 students graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree. Hellen Adoyo earned a first class honours while the rest scored second class honours (upper division).


The varsity has also denied that such an incident happened.

Gladys Nyamchama, a senior medical staff at the institution and the officer responsible for coordinating emergency response for the graduation told this desk they did not handle such a case.

“We had five emergency tents and mine was just at the entrance. I was periodically moving around and I never heard or saw something like that,” Nyamchama who had teams like the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance under her belt said.

She confirmed that they worked as a team and could not have been oblivious to such an incident.

“There were other officials apart from me, like a supervisor. We also had the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance students’ chapter. How come such a thing escaped all of us?” she wondered.

We tried to establish the motive of the story and asked Nyamchama if cases of people fainting were commonplace during graduations.

“I think that person wants to ridicule or paint the university in a bad light,” she said, adding that they largely handled blood pressure and hypertension issues among the attendees.

She attributed this to the long distances people travelled to get to the university.

Ms Nyamchama’s account was corroborated with our reporters who covered the graduation ceremony.

Some of the graduates at the university’s pavilion after the ceremony on December 20, 2019. The university has warned against fake news. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Standard’s Eric Abuga said nothing of the sort happened.

He also told us that he had confirmed with Kisii Central Police Station OCS Stanley Mbuvi who said that they did not have such a case in their records.

Mbuvi denied reports that were detaining the made-up family of 15.

This is part of an initiative of the Standard Group Plc to combat fake news, misinformation and disinformation.  If you have something you want us to fact-check you can reach us on: [email protected]

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