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Woman's bizarre death in Saudi Arabia shocks family

Rift Valley
 George Otieno (centre) griefs his wife Judith Adhiambo, 37, flanked by family and friends at Kimathi area in Nakuru County on December 11, 2022. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

George Otieno had missed his wife Judith Adhiambo, 37, and decided to call her to know when she would return home from the Middle East.

Little did he know the November 27 call that lasted for over an hour, where the jovial Adhiambo promised him that she was to board a plane from Saudi Arabia and arrive in Kenya the following day, was the last one.

Otieno says Adhiambo requested to speak to their four children and her sister before disconnecting the call. "She spoke to our children for hours and promised them they would see her the following day with goodies," says Otieno.

Otieno, who had been taking care of the four children since Adhiambo left in June, was relieved and he knew his wife and breadwinner in the family would return home soon.

The following day, he recalls, he was called and the most disturbing news from someone he did not know was relayed to him.

"Someone called me and said that my wife had died. But how could she be dead? It was barely 24 hours since we last spoke and she promised to come home," Otieno said.

He says he has lost a confidant, jovial and caring person who took care of him, her mother, and their children. "She was the provider in the family and took the initiative and opportunity to move abroad on our family's behalf," he says.

The trip she made in June, according to Otieno, was successful and a Kenyan agency helped her secure a job in Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker.

"She sent her first salary and we went shopping with our children. Our lives had begun to improve," he says.

However, it was barely two months before Adhiambo and her employer had a disagreement and she left the home and returned to her agency holding room. When he was called, Otieno heard that she fell inside a bathroom in her holding room and died.

"I heard that she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth but she overstayed. Her roommates got suspicious and went to check on her only to find her on the ground," he says.

For over two weeks, the family has been mourning and waiting for the government to bring Adhiambo home.

Vincent Oduong, Adhiambo's brother-in-law says they received the news of her death in a very disturbing and informal way. "Her colleague texted someone who used to ferry her kids to school. They did not contact us directly," he says.

He says they had to push and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and her agency took up the matter with cooperation.

"We are traumatized because we were told to wait without a timeframe. We need to mourn, bury her, heal and then prepare her children for school in January," he laments.

Anthony Kamau, the in charge of the agency that took Adhiambo to Saudi Arabia says his agency is helpless and has to wait for the Saudi government to investigate her death before they can fly the body to Kenya.

He notes that she was waiting for the exit visa at their accommodation office before she met her death.

"We will cater for the air ticket but we have to wait until Saudi Arabia concludes the investigation and rules out foul play in her death. Until then, we cannot promise the family anything," he says.

Efforts by The Standard to get a comment from Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Alfred Mutua were futile as he could not respond to text messages or receive calls.

His counterpart and CS Labour Florence Bore, could also not be reached for comment.

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