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Woman’s efforts to rebury mother pays off after eight-year battle

KENYA
By FIDELIS KABUNYI | June 29th 2016

When Joyce Wambui Ng’ang’a died in 2008, her husband decided that she be buried on a piece of land at Ndarugu in Juja, Kiambu County, instead of their home in Ndumberi.

Their daughter Rose Wangui says she never knew her father’s decision to bury her mother on the Juja Farm would give her and her sisters so much trouble.

It later emerged the land in Ruiru East, Juja East block 2/168 was disputed and the supposed owner, one Margaret Njeri Gachibu, had demanded the body be exhumed and reburied elsewhere.

Wangui, who has been living in Germany with her sister since 2010, says their father, David Mbugua Ng’ang’a, never told them about the protracted legal battle he had had over ownership of the land with Gachibu since 1992.

 Several trips

They only learned about it after Gachibu went to court demanding Wambui’s remains be exhumed. According to court papers, Mrs Gachibu also demanded that Ng’ang’a, who had been cultivating the land, be evicted.

Thus, Wangui has been on a journey of eight years in her quest to give their mother a decent send-off.

Her efforts to have her mother’s remains exhumed has earned her the wrath of her father and three brothers who have been opposed to the idea. But she never gave up.

Rose Wangui narrates on the journey of exhuming the remains of her mother and fights she had with her father and brothers. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

And after making so many trips home from Germany to have the matter sorted out, her efforts finally paid off on Friday last week when she finally interred the remains of her mother at the Ndumberi public cemetery after they were exhumed.

Mrs Gachibu noted in her suit papers that she had evidence showing she was the rightful owner of the land. She said the documents Ng’ang’a had were forged.

Wangui says they buried their mother in Juja because they were not aware of the dispute.

They only sensed trouble following the tension that marred the burial after youth were reportedly mobilised to stop the ceremony. However, they could not do so since there was no court order as the matter was still being heard.

Wangui and her sisters went to their father after the burial for answers. They wanted to establish the truth about the ownership of the land.

“We also wanted to know why he had insisted we bury our mother on a disputed piece of land,” Wangui says.

Their father, she adds, became evasive, only stating he was confident the court would rule in his favour. All this while, Wangui says, she had been trying to convince him to have the body exhumed but in vain.

But things took a twist on February 21, 2014 when Thika Principal Magistrate, M W Mutuku ruled Ng’ang’a be evicted from the land and all the structures he had put up demolished.

Further, the court ruled that Ng’ang’a removes or cause exhumation of Wambui’s remains.

“That the exhumation be facilitated by the Thika District Public Health Officer and security be provided by the Officer Commanding Juja Police Station and the cost of the application be met by the respondent,” the magistrate’s ruling said in part.

But even after the ruling, Ng’ang’a remained adamant. However, Wangui and her two sisters insisted that their mother’s remains must be exhumed and reburied.

Last year, Wangui says her father and brother assaulted her when she insisted that Wambui’s remains be exhumed. She reported the matter to Ndumberi chief’s office and Ng’ang’a was reprimanded.

The sisters decided to exhume their mother’s remains against their father’s will. On June 17, this year, armed with a court order, Wangui secured authority from the county to exhume the body.

Public cemetery

The order, signed by Public Health Officer, Dr Jonah Mwangi, reads in part: “That David Mbugua Ng’ang’a take the responsibility of the process; the exercise be supervised by Juja Sub-County Public Health Officer; the registrar of births and deaths be informed and remains be interred at Ndumberi public cemetery.”

Remains of Joyce Wambui Ng’ang’a being buried at Ndumberi Public Cemetery in Kiambu County after exhuming the body from Juja Farm, Ndarugu area, where it was laid to rest in 2008 in a disputed piece of land. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

And on Friday, Wangui accompanied by some relatives and friends travelled to Juja Farm and exhumed the body but her father and brothers were nowhere to be seen.

Her brother, Joseph Ng’ang’a, said their father and his brothers were not part of the process because his sisters did not use the right procedures. However, Wangui is just happy to have reburied her mother’s remains, decently.

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