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Family that despises hospitals loses seventh child

 A group of youths disrupt the burial of Joram Njenga, 14, at Nakuru South Cementry on Wednesday. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Only last week, he was bubbly and attended school alongside his peers. But today, 14-year-old Joram Njenga is no more. His family insists he caught a cold on Thursday last week and died at home on Sunday.

But residents of Nakuru South feel Njenga died as a result of negligence; he was not taken to hospital.

His family belongs to Kanitha wa Ngai (Church of God) that does not believe in conventional medicine.

According to the residents, the family has lost seven children in less than 10 years.

They disrupted Njenga's burial at the Nakuru South Cemetery on Wednesday, demanding an explanation into circumstances under which he died.

“In less than 10 years we have buried seven children from this family. When they fall sick, the parents do not take them to hospital. Instead they lock them up believing that their faith will heal them. This is totally unacceptable and we won’t allow the burial to continue,” said Anthony Thiong’o.

Njenga was a Standard Seven pupil at Gracious Academy.

His death was kept secret with only members of the church being informed of the bad news.

“We only learnt yesterday evening that Joram was no more. None of the members of the church disclosed to us what was happening until we found out by ourselves,” Mr Thiong’o said.

Thiong’o added that the family has been handling the funerals in secrecy with members of the extended family asking questions about the children unknown to them that they had died.

Past burials

The residents took over the burial ceremony to lecture members of the church, asking relatives in attendance to identify themselves. Just as in the past burials, only the immediate family was present.

Thiong’o noted between 2014 and this year, the family had buried four children, all of them under the age of 18. They have all died after short illnesses without being taken to hospital.

The residents accused the church of being hypocritical in their worship, saying they should stop taking the bodies to the morgues which are not as significant as the hospitals.

“Why should they believe in having the bodies kept in a morgue when they don’t believe in hospitals? Their faith is baseless since they can’t quote from the scriptures where going to hospital is prohibited,” he said.

James Karanja, an uncle of Njenga, arrived hours later to find the commotion.

Mr Karanja, who lives in Rongai, said despite his proximity to the family which lives in Mzee Wanyama, he was not informed about the matter.

“Someone called me this morning to inform me that my nephew was to be buried. He knows what the family has been doing to their children and saw it prudent to inform me. I’m very disappointed,” said Karanja.

Order was restored after elders, who are also members of the church, calmed the youths and asked them to allow the family bury their son in peace.

Joram’s father who only identified himself as Baba Methu, said he loved his son and would not wish him death.

He, however, stood firm on his faith that the church does not believe in hospitals.

“I loved my son. He fell ill and his death was God’s will,” said the father.

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