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Wahome Mutahi family loses compensation case

By WAHOME THUKU | April 24th 2015

The family of the late humour columnist Wahome Mutahi has lost a protracted court battle for compensation over his death.

The family lost a suit they filed in 2004 seeking compensation from the Government over the alleged negligence that led to Mutahi’s death a year earlier.

High Court judge Rose Ougo dismissed the case filed by his widow Ricarda Njoki, saying the family had failed to prove the cause of the death.

The judge observed that the family had failed to produce a post-mortem report and other evidence to prove the writer died from negligence.

Mutahi, popularly known by his pen-name Whispers, was an acclaimed journalist, humour writer, author and a theatre enthusiast.

On March 7, 2003 he was admitted at Thika District Hospital, a Government institution, for what was expected to be a minor operation to remove a swelling in his neck. He, however, did not recover from the anaesthesia.

He went into a coma after the operation and was admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Nairobi on March 7.

He died on July 22, 2003.

The family immediately accused Thika District Hospital and three doctors of negligence and began the long search for justice.

Mrs Mutahi, a nurse, lodged a complaint with the Kenya Medical Dentists and Practitioners Board on August 18, 2003. A preliminary inquiry committee of the board found the surgery was carried out in an inappropriate facility.

The committee also said the anaesthetist management had shortcomings and that there was failure to give oxygen intra-operatively to the patient. A wrong diagnosis had also been made.

The Board cleared two doctors Ronald Lwegado and Philip Mulingwa who had attended to the writer. Another doctor was however found guilty of misconduct and suspended for six months.

In 2004, Mrs Mutahi filed the case at the High Court seeking special damages amounting to Sh395,000 and general damages for pain and suffering, unlawful death, and loss of dependency.

She sued the government as well as Dr Lwedago and Dr King’ang’a. But it was not until April 2013 that she got to testify in court. She told the court she and her children lost a caring, loving and responsible father and husband.

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