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Autopsy: Ruth Matete’s husband had severe burns that caused multiple organ failure

By Cyrus Ombati | April 23rd 2020

Gospel artist Ruth Matete (left) with her Nigerian husband John Apewajowe in a past church function. [File, Standard]

Gospel musician Ruth Matete’s husband sustained severe body burns that caused his death, a postmortem examination on the body has shown.

Pathologists concluded John Apewajoye, a Nigerian pastor, had 60 per cent burns that triggered a condition called sepsis hence multiple organ failure.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body's response to an infection. The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight infection. Sepsis occurs when the body's response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.

Chief Government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor said the burns the pastor sustained made it impossible for him to recover. There were no other injuries on the body detected.

“The burns were severe at 60 per cent which triggered multiple organ failure,” he said.

The postmortem was attended by Matete’s lawyer Robert Odanga and his family. It was conducted at the Kenyatta National Hospital mortuary. Police were present.

Detectives handling the case will now determine how to progress with the probe.

Ms Matete has been questioned twice over the death as part of the probe.

The detectives also went to Ms Matete's residential home in Athi River, Machakos County, to collect more evidence to help them establish events that preceded Apewajoye's death.

Detectives from the homicide unit have taken over the probe into the April 11 incident. They took over from their colleagues from Athi River who were handling the case. The team reconstructed the scene of the incident as told by Ms Matete.

She was asked to narrate events that led to the gas cylinder accident earlier reported as the cause of her husband's death.

Apewajoye died in hospital after sustaining burns at their house in Great Wall Gardens Estate in Athi River out of an explosion from a gas cylinder.

The gas cylinder incident on March 30 at around 5 pm was initially described as an accident by DCI detectives based at Athi River Police Station.

But police say they want to ensure all doubts are cleared by handling it professionally. The detectives handling the case said they hope the planned autopsy will help clear the way forward in their investigations.

Ms Matete said Apewajoye was initially taken to Shallom Hospital and later transferred to Bellevue South and admitted to the high dependency unit before being moved to Kenyatta National Hospital where he succumbed.

During her grilling by detectives on what led to her husband’s demise, Matate who is two months pregnant and the 2012 Tusker Project Fame star told police her husband succumbed two weeks after he suffered burn wounds.

Police and officials from Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority officials visited the house where the incident happened after a gas cylinder exploded. The gas cylinder is among exhibits that were collected from the house for further analysis.

Experts from EPRA are helping police to know if the cylinder was faulty at the time of the incident. They are also working with the company that supplied the cylinder to the couple as part of the probe.

Ms Matete told police her husband’s upper body was burnt after a failed attempt to light up their six-kilogram gas cylinder after a refill.

According to the singer, the Nigerian was only wearing a pair of trousers when he took the cylinder from their kitchen to the balcony after he thought it was over refilled and wanted to release some gas.

She said the gas exploded immediately engulfing the husband after he tried to light. He then rushed into the house seeking help.

She said she ran into the bedroom to get a duvet to cover him and put out the flames while screaming for help, which attracted the attention of her neighbours.

It was after this that they took him to a local hospital where he was admitted to the high dependency unit.

On April 5, he was referred to Kenyatta National Hospital where he succumbed to the burns on April 11. Officials said he had sustained about 60 per cent burns.

Ms Matete announced the death through social media.

"My Husband Beloved John Apewajoye has gone to be with the Lord. I humbly ask for your prayers during this difficult time," she wrote on Facebook.

At least ten witnesses, including first responders, have recorded their statements with the DCI over the incident as the probe goes on.

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