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Family feud leads to bizarre burial on blind man's land

 Kariuki Murebe's relatives at the graveside where his stepbrother was laid to rest without his consent at Kanjuri Village, Mathira in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]   

Residents of Gatei Village in Mathira Constituency are alarmed after a man was buried on his step-brother’s property in a secret ceremony that has left relatives and neighbours in shock.

On Wednesday, May 25, a group of about 15 men walked into Joshua Kariuki’s farm and dug a grave, where they lowered the casket of his brother, Cornelius Gachemi.

Kariuki, who was born blind, said the group of men accessed his farm from the maize plantation and quietly started to dig the grave next to his father’s graveside.

According to neighbours, the men carried out the secret funeral a day before the planned date, and did not do any burial rites nor sing any dirges as they carried out the exercise.

“These people know I am blind so they were trying to do the burial without making noise because they did not want me to hear them, but I knew something was amiss when I found the fresh grave,” he said.

Eunice Wanjiru, a niece to Kariuki and the deceased, said the family had made arrangements to bury their kin on Thursday at his home.

“We knew my uncle Cornelius would be buried near his home on his land which is a few metres from here, so we were surprised when we heard he was buried on Kariuki’s land without informing us,” she said.

She said she was on her farm tending to crops but did not know the funeral was going on a few metres away.

“I was very surprised to see a gathering on Kariuki’s farm. In less than 30 minutes they had already left, and there was a freshly dug grave with a cross,” Wanjiru said.

Kariuki said he was embroiled in a dispute with his elder brothers who wanted to disposess him of his land which he inherited from his father.

“My father subdivided the land and gave me three acres, while my brothers each got two acres, after my father died,” he said.

He said his father had two wives and his mother was the second wife.

“We have been in and out of court since 2001, and we were supposed to get a judgement on May 28 on the case, but my brother Cornelius died last week,” he said.

During funeral arrangements the clan and family agreed that Cornelius would be buried on his land near his deceased wife, who passed away five years ago.

All plans were in place and the burial date was set for May 26, with the local PCEA church booked to carry out the funeral rites. However, a day to the funeral, Kariuki was alerted of plans to bury his brother on his land. He reached out to the family lawyer, Charles Kingori, seeking an order to bar the interment.

But before he would get the order, the gang of youth sneaked into his farm and carried out the burial.

Kariuki said he has been harassed constantly for the last two decades by unknown people who have been stealing his food and cutting down his crops.

“My wife left me after she was harassed when she tried to farm and keep some animals but they were stolen from us,” he said.

Despite the harassment, Kariuki insisted he is determined to fight for his property using legal means.

“Some people think that because I am blind I do not deserve to have my inheritance, but I will not give up what is rightfully mine,” he said.

His lawyer, Kingori, said he would file the order and wait for the court to make its decision on the matter.

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