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Siaya Governor Rasanga forms team to probe dawn burial of Covid-19 victim

NYANZA
By Olivia Odhiambo | April 13th 2020

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga (above) has formed a five-member team to investigate the bizarre burial of a suspected Covid-19 victim on Saturday at dawn.

The county chief ordered that a family member of the deceased also be incorporated into the team.

The move comes in the wake of public outcry as Kenyans question how the body of the James Oyugi Onyango was casually buried in a shallow grave with no coffin at night.

According to the family members, Onyango's body was wrapped in a body bag and buried at his home in Kamalungi village at 2 am under the watchful eyes of police and public health officers.

On Monday, his brother Zack Onyango condemned the casual manner in which his brother’s body was buried.

Zack told Standard Digital that his brother was buried like a dog as the presiding health officers and the police disregarded cultural rites.

“Luo culture does not allow someone to be buried at night like a dog the way they did to my brother. This thing will affect the kids,” he lamented.

He appealed the government to allow them to exhume the body for a decent and dignified burial according to the initial plan.

“We want the body to be removed from the grave then taken to the mortuary then we can set a day and bury him in a coffin,” he said.

 “We didn’t have any intention of burying our brother at night. We wanted to give him a decent burial during the day,” he told Standard Digital on phone.

He becomes the first Covid-19 victim in Kenya to be buried in such a manner. Others have either been cremated or buried in coffins.

Rasanga’s defence

On Monday, Rasanga claimed he was not aware of who exactly had given directives to the health officials and police to bury the deceased at 2:30 am on Sunday morning in a body bag.

The Governor who addressed the media at his home in Segere, Siaya County, said he watched the burial clip for the first time as it was aired by a local TV station.

He termed the burial as barbaric and condemned those who had been involved in it.

 

"The manner in which the body was disposed was barbaric. This is because there are guidelines that state how Covid-19 should be buried. There is nowhere it states a victim should not be buried in a coffin," he noted.

Rasanga said despite the fact that the man had been buried, he would still ensure he is given honour as he was a very senior person at the Kenya Ports Authority.

The Governor noted that together with the County Commissioner Michael Ole Tialal he has set up a team chaired by CEC for Governance Dismas Wakla, together with the Police Commandant Francis Kooli, ACK cleric Provost Joel Atong and a family member as proposed by Ugenya MP David Ochieng to do investigations on the burial saga.

The committee has been given seven days to investigate and table a report on what really happened.

It is to investigate and table a report on who ordered for the burial to be done at that time and why the deceased was buried in an inhumane manner.

Decent sendoff

According to the governor, the family will be given a chance to perform burial rights as per the recommendations of the committee once the committee report is complete.

Rasanga at the same time rejected the press statement released to the media on Sunday evening by his communication Director Jerry Ochieng claiming he had not watched the burial clip at the time it went to the press.

He argued that he had relied on the emergency response team information about the burial.

"The press statement was released before I saw the clip. Initially I was relying on the emergency committee response team on information during our meeting on Sunday afternoon. I have since seen the clip and seen the actual thing that took place so ,I will go with what I have seen and not what the committee told me," he added.

The emergency response committee is currently tracing 72 contacts who had been in contact with the deceased.

There are 45 others including the deceased family members who have already been put in quarantine.

Another four people who came in the county from Mombasa illegally through a lorry have been put into forceful quarantine at their cost which is Sh2000 in accordance with the County directive.

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