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Nandi family calls for inquest into 16-year-old daughter's death

By Lynn Kolongei | Mar 31st 2022 | 4 min read


Family of the late Beryl Chero and other relatives during an interview in Eldoret last week. [Peter Ochieng, Standard].

A family wants an investigation conducted to get to the bottom of the death of their 16-year-old daughter.

Beryl Jerop, was a Form One student at St Teresa of Avilla Girls Secondary School in Ndalat, Nandi County. She died on October 24 last year.

Postmortem results from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) showed the student succumbed to bacterial meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes that protect the spinal cord and brain.

Five months after the teenager's death, the family from Uasin Gishu County says little has been done to help them get justice.

The girl's father, David Mutai, said the police had told them the matter had been closed.

"When we reported the case to the police, we were told to wait for three months as statements would be sent to Nairobi. When the period was over and no response was forthcoming, I went to the police who told me the case was done and it would not be revisited,” said Mr Too.

Through a letter from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, the family was informed there was no evidence to charge the school administration and nurse with negligence.

The letter signed by Andrew Ndete, a prosecution counsel from Nandi, stated that Jerop had been on medication when the school reopened on October 12. The student was complaining of a headache and vomiting, and was taking painkillers and antibiotics.

“The nurse administered the medicine until October 18, 2021, when she finished the dosage. Afterwards, on October 22, 2021, the student complained of mild headaches and vomiting, making her continue with the medication. The nurse administered the same drugs until she (Jerop) passed away,” read Mr Ndete’s report.

Mr Ndete noted that Jerop was experiencing symptoms of bacterial meningitis and she was attended to by the school nurse, who also informed the administration of her condition.

“The principal of the school also acted in good time after she was made aware of the situation by calling for help from the police service, who were able to source an ambulance which took the student to hospital," the report said.

According to Mr Ndete, “There is no evidence of professional and or administrative negligence on the part of the principal and school nurse to warrant that they be charged under Section 244 of the Penal Code.”

Jerop’s mother, Ruth Keino, said the school had called Jerop’s uncle, Thomas Too, informing him that she had fallen sick and was being taken to hospital.

But as Mr Too made his way to hospital, he got another call telling him that Jerop had died and he should instead go to the MTRH mortuary.

“I wondered what had happened to my last-born daughter when I had bid her goodbye barely two weeks before schools reopened. She was healthy, and the school never informed us about her illness,” said Mrs Keino.

The mother wondered why the school had kept silent about her sick child.

“The school would inform us about my daughter’s school fees and about her academics. I wonder why they would not inform us about her health when, according to the doctor who performed the postmortem, Jerop had been ailing for almost two weeks. She was slowly dying and no one would help her seek medication,” said Mrs Keino.

The family blames the school for withholding information about their daughter’s health, and later giving inconsistent information about her health.

“At first we were told that Jerop had a headache and had fainted. The school then claimed that she was taken to hospital and died along the way, only for them to tell us later after they came to console us that she died in the dormitory and that tension was high in school as students demonstrated about the death,” said Mrs Keino.

She said despite the school administration apologising for the family’s loss, it did not send representatives or allow students to attend Jerop’s burial.

“Once the sad news reached us, the school management went mum. No one from the school attended the funeral, and Jerop’s belongings are still in school to date. We have never found closure because we have many unanswered questions and no one to give us the truth,” the mother said.

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