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Mother cries for son’s body as killers roam the village

THE UNDERWORLD
By | December 7th 2011

By Leonard Korir

Since she lost her son four years ago at the hands of brutal murderers, life has turned from bad to worse.

Alice Boncheri has undergone a lot of pain including a separation fuelled by the murder and subsequent failure to get the body of her son for burial.

When The Underworld caught up with Boncheri at Majengo slum in Kilgoris town, she was seated gazing at the skies appearing confused.

She was in a state of reverie as she took time to notice our entry to her compound. For her, a stranger should bring good news on the predicament of her son Denis Omwenga.

The mother of seven says Omwenga, then14, was tortured before being set ablaze by well-known people.

Pay dispute

The ugly incident occurred on May 29, 2007 after the boy demanded payment from her aunt, a fruits vendor, for transporting goods to her business premises.

According to the mother, her son went to ask his aunt for the money but unfortunately she was not at home.

Omwenga returned home and her mother urged him to wait till the following day to get the money. As they were chatting at the fireplace after dinner, four people including his aunt Mellen Mbera entered and whisked him away.

"We watched helplessly as they frog marched my son. We trailed them up to Mbera’s compound," says Boncheri.

James Nyakundi, the elder brother to the deceased, painfully recalls how his younger brother was tied on his hands and flogged with wooden planks by the attackers claiming Omwenga had stolen money from his aunt.

"When my mother suggested that if truly my brother had stolen he should be taken to the police station, Mbera hit her using a five –litre jerrican of water," recalls Nyakundi. Boncheri fled the scene only to be told later that her son had been set ablaze.

She broke down as she tried to narrate how her son struggled to cool his burning body by jumping into a nearby river. When she later visited the boy at Trans Mara District Hospital, she was shocked to find him badly burnt.

Unable to withstand the pain, Boncheri fainted only to find herself in the hospital ward. After spending three days in the hospital without improvement, Omwenga was transferred to Nakuru Provincial Hospital where he succumbed to the serious burns.

A post-mortem report later produced in court as exhibit by doctor Hassan Hirbo indicated the extensive burns caused the death.

Before his death, Omwenga had named three people — Elizaphan Ombiro, 22, and another as those who tied his hands then laced him with paraffin before his aunt Mellen Mbera lit a matchstick to set him a blaze.

During the trial of the trio at Kilgoris law courts James Nyakundi, a witness, gave an emotional testimony on how Omwenga was killed.

While passing the judgement, Kilgoris Principal Magistrate, Roselyn Oganyo ruled that the accused persons be placed on probation for three years saying the probation officer’s report indicated that deceased’s mother was a dependant of Mbera and putting her on a custodial sentence would harm their relationship.

In mitigation, Mbera sought for court leniency saying she was the breadwinner to her three school going children.

The ruling shocked many people. Despite the culprits conceding to have committed the offence, Mbera’s charge of attempted murder was later reduced to manslaughter.

No money

Despite their misgivings on the ruling, the family was unable to pursue justice due to lack of money.

What pains the family most is that while Omwenga’s killers enjoy freedom, they are yet to see the body of their beloved for burial.

"Since I saw my son burning in pain I have never set my eyes on him whether alive or dead. I only hear he died but I hope one day I will get his body and bury him," says Boncheri.

The case, which initially was handled by Ogembo law courts was transferred to Kilgoris after Boncheri lodged a complaint due to the long distance.

Boncheri’s relative Ongondo Mose who was assisting her to pursue justice died after taking a drink laced with poison but it was not clear who was responsible.

But before his death, he had told friends that somebody had approached him to drop the case but he refused.

"My husband left us and went to Sameta in Gucha after he accused me of letting the boy to go to her aunt only to be told of his death," Boncheri says.

The bill at Nakuru Provincial Hospital had shot up to Sh48,000 prompting the locals to organise a funds drive, which only raised Sh7,000.

"This is the fourth year the body has stayed in the hospital. But we are not sure if it is still there or has been disposed," says Nyakundi.

"This case has tampered with the mental status of my mother," Nyakundi says. The mother wants the body of her son to give it a decent burial.

"We need assistance to settle the hospital bill and transport the body home for decent burial," she concludes.

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