DCI probes fraud claims in use of Londiani crash victims' money

Felix Kiptoo, 24, at the gravesite of his wife Sheila Chepchirchir, 22. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Some victims' families and survivors of the Londiani accident have formally reported to the police an alleged misappropriation of Sh13.6 million donated by well-wishers.

Rhoda Kanyi, the Kericho East DCI officer, confirmed that thirteen families reported the matter and recorded statements.

Janet Chebet, from Momoniat village in Kipkelion East constituency, who lost her brother in the accident, expressed her dismay upon discovering that a significant portion of the funds was used for purposes other than the original intention stated by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during the fundraising event.

"The funeral expenses for my late brother, who worked as a matatu crew, were around Sh270,000, but we received only Sh90,000 from the prayer service held in Londiani. It wasn't enough to cover much," she said.

Chebet called on investigative agencies to probe the alleged misappropriation of funds meant to aid all the victims and survivors of the devastating road crash.

Vincent Kiplangat, from the United area in Londiani, who lost his brother Frank Korir, 19, in the accident, emphasized that all non-victims who received payments from the fundraiser should surrender the money.

"My younger brother was a boda rider, and the owner of the motorcycle has been pressing me, as the next of kin, to pay him for his motorcycle that was crashed in the accident. Yet, we only received Sh90,000 from the committee," he said.

Stephen Cheruiyot, the Londiani boda-Boda chairman, expressed shock at the contents of the committee's report, revealing that only three boda-boda members were compensated with Sh30,000 each for the loss of their motorcycles.

"We have not received even a single cent," he said.

Cheruiyot added that more than three boda-boda owners were excluded from the compensation, leaving them without any means of earning a living.

Felix Kiptoo, 24, who lost his wife Sheila Chepchichir, 22, said he received the first Sh300, 000.

"I received the first Sh300, 000 from the national government.
We were promised another Sh250, 000 at the fundraiser, which followed," said Kiptoo.

Kiptoo explained that he was shocked when the cheque for the second batch was different from what was promised.

"From the fundraiser kitty, we received only Sh90, 000. This is a figure we don't know how it was arrived at," said Kiptoo.

Charles Bett lost his Grade Six son in the tragedy.

Charles Bett speaks at his home at Tulwop village in Kericho County. He lost his Grade Six son in the tragedy. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

"He had gone for a haircut. He then joined his mother, who is a trader at the junction when the accident happened, killing him on the spot," said Bett.

The two received a similar amount as the rest, leaving him with questions about where the remainder went to.

"During the fundraiser, Kericho Governor Dr Eric Mutai promised that the county would waive medical bills and post-mortem costs. We are shocked when we hear that part of the funds raised was used for the bills," said Bett.

Those who suffered injuries were listed to receive Sh60, 000 each.

John Rono explains that his niece Beatrice Barno suffered injuries but has not received a coin.

"My niece is still stuck in the house nursing her injuries. She was treated at Londiani Hospital, where her name is in the records. The name was struck out from the list of those who received the money," said Rono.

For the family of Joseph Siele, the money has left them divided with the in-laws.

"My son Peter Kipkoech, 32, died in the accident. He was married for nine years and had two children," said Siele.

Kipkoech's wife and his father are said to have conspired to deny the family the money meant to cater for burial expenses.

"He influenced her to have the money deposited in his account. We had to involve local chiefs to have part of the money for funeral expenses," said Siele.

According to him, the in-law gave them Sh100, 000 from the Sh300, 000 but still demanded part of the money.

"He withheld the burial permit of my son, demanding that I must pay part of my son's dowry. We paid him and had to source more money from friends," said Siele.

He added that after the funeral, the in-law and her daughter parked his son's belongings and left.

"The level of disrespect I have seen from the in-laws just because of the money is just shocking. They even left with my grandchildren," said Siele.

Rose Siele. Her son Peter Kipkoech, 32, died in the accident. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kericho Deputy Governor Fred Kirui, who exposed the scandal, confirmed that he had submitted evidence of the misappropriation to the DCI.

"The cheques drawn by multinational tea firms in Kericho, totalling Sh25,000, have not been accounted for by the committee. There is more money which wasn't declared, in addition to the huge sums that were misappropriated," he said.

He called for justice and prosecution of those responsible.

Kirui also urged Kericho County Secretary Dr Wesley Bor, who chaired the committee to resign.

In response, Dr Bor urged the Deputy Governor to visit the county and witness first-hand the progress made in addressing the plight of the Londiani accident victims and other matters.

He explained that despite Governor Dr Mutai's promise to waive mortuary fees and treatment costs for the victims during the fundraiser, some critically ill patients still required specialized treatment and rehabilitation.

"The cost for treatment and medication continues to accrue to date. Some victims had their lower limbs amputated and required rehabilitation to restore their normal lives," Dr Bor said.