The late Meshack Yebei, said to be Deputy President William Ruto’s key witness in his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was yesterday buried three months after his disappearance.
His decomposing body was recently discovered at Man Eaters Park in Voi by a forest ranger after he disappeared on December 28 last year from his Kaptebee Village in Uasin Gishu County.
In an emotional burial ceremony attended by family, friends and human rights officials, Yebei was eulogised as a kind and responsible man who did not deserve such a painful death. During the emotional event, family members gave his killers a 40 day ultimatum to own up to the heinous act, vowing that something ‘mighty’ will happen and the perpetrators exposed.
“His death has brought sadness to the family and it will come to pass after 40 days. His death will be the beginning of problems for the killers who ended his life prematurely,” said Mr Kibet Chemiron a cousin to Yebei.
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The family also expressed displeasure at how local leaders, some of who were initially attached to them when their son was killed failed to attend the burial.
“We are still surprised why those who maintained he was their witness failed to attend his burial, what deterred them to even come say sorry?” questioned George Kemboi a family member. Ruto and local leaders gave the function a wide berth and instead attended meetings in Kericho and Nakuru.
The Deputy President hails from the same village and had through his lead counsel in his ICC case Karim Khan claimed that Yebei was a key defence witness. He had called on security agents to carry out investigations to unravel the mystery after his counsel’s revelation.
Lillian Yebei, the wife of the deceased eulogised him as a loving husband and father and a man who touched the lives of many. “My heart is so low because of the pain of losing you. Life has really changed after your abduction, we stayed peacefully for eight years and I did not know that you would leave early.”
His parents Lazarus and Priscillah Kisorio lauded the human rights group for assisting in the discovery of their son’s body, and noted that their wishes to bury him had been fulfilled. “When he disappeared, I pleaded with God to show me where he was even if he was dead so that I would bury him and it happened,” said Mr Kisorio. He added: “Why didn’t his killers not come to us to accuse him for his alleged wrong doings? It was unfair to end his life.” Clara Yebei, his eldest sister said she had forgiven those who were behind the abduction and killing of their kin. His elder brother Reverend Moses Kisorio said threats to his brother’s life started in 2013.
“He came to me one day with his family and revealed how his life had become difficult with those he worked with, saying they had turned against him; his fear was that he might be killed,” said Reverend Kisorio. Yebei had wanted to relocate to a safe place outside Eldoret because he feared that certain individuals were after his life. He preferred a house in Kitale where he would live with his family but later said it was not safe from his alleged killers.
Human rights organisations leaders present during the burial challenged the Government to help solve the mystery of Yebei’s murder.
In a presentation to the mourners, non-governmental human rights bodies said preliminary findings of a parallel investigation raised several questions directed to the Government on its laxity to follow key leads provided to aid a swift conclusion to the matter.
They claimed that the question of whether he was a prosecution or defence witness is yet to be answered.
The report indicates Yebei was initially among people who met ICC investigators before pulling off due to personal reasons. He allegedly met the prosecutor’s agents in 2013 and later attended a meeting aimed at convincing witnesses in Ruto’s case to retract.