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Nyamira village in shock as woman's body is exhumed over unsettled dowry

By Stanley Ongwae | January 29th 2016

KENYA: A woman's body has been exhumed over an unsettled dowry payment and the unexplained cause of her death.

Residents of Nyamatoki village in Keera watched in shock Thursday as the remains of the woman were dug up following a court order.

The exhumation, which was conducted under the watch of 20 police officers, was ordered by a Kisii Court after the family of the woman filed an application under a certificate of urgency to have the body exhumed to allow the issues to be addressed.

Chief John Oire said the woman was married in the village for more than six years.

The chief said her family had initially been given one cow and Sh5,000 and that there is a balance of Sh15,000.

"Why did they wait for more than two weeks before coming up with the claims?" wondered Mr Oire.

Close family members of the husband claimed the woman, who used to run a vegetable kiosk in Kariobangi South, Nairobi, died as a result of excessive bleeding occasioned by an unsafe abortion.

The deceased's brother said his sister was calm and the family never had problems before.

Oire said Alice Kemunto Bundi was four-months pregnant when she died. He however, said the Government agencies that helped the family to secure a burial permit were better placed to offer an explanation.

In a sworn affidavit, the family of the late Kemunto, through their lawyer Thomas Moracha had indicated that the bride price was never settled.

Additionally, the order to exhume the body that was certified by Kisii Senior Resident Magistrate SN Makila stated that the cause of the death was not clear and that prior to the burial, her family had not received any information on the same.

The father of the 27-year-old mother of four children said he was not involved in the burial arrangements, which were conducted on Tuesday.

The four children are still under the care of their father who works as a matatu conductor in Nairobi.

"We never agreed on the burial of my daughter and they never even got my family's approval for any of the burial arrangements. This raises questions on their motives considering that they have never paid bride price and my daughter died in circumstances that are suspicious," said James Bundi, the deceased's father.

Mr Bundi denied receiving any dowry, which triggered anger from his in-laws who watched from a distance as the coffin bearing the body was raised from the grave.

It took six men more than five hours to remove the soil from the fresh grave.

Villagers watched in disbelief as the young men, who were hired in Nyamira town, toiled at the grave. When the young men requested for drinking water, angry residents refused to give it to them, perhaps to show their disapproval for what they were doing.

The hearing of the case that led to the exhumation will be on February 10 at a Nyamira court.

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