Kilifi family seeking help to retrieve body of 22-year-old kin from Indian Ocean

A Kilifi family from Malindi town is seeking help to retrieve the body of their kin who allegedly dived to her death at the Kilifi Bridge, 60 kilometers away in Kilifi town.

According to the family of the deceased, 22-year-old Beatrice Neema Kalume who was a final year student at the Shanzu Teachers College in Mombasa County, left  home in Malindi on Thursday last week and it is now the fourth day without trace.

Mary Mwadondo, Neema’s mother, said that her daughter woke up early on Thursday morning and left the house but she did not reveal where she was going.

“She left at 3: 55am and I asked her where she was going and she told me she wanted to drink tap water within the compound but she failed to return, that is when I woke up his brother to try to find out but she could not be traced,” she said.

She added that they reported to the area chief in Malindi who later in the day revealed to them that there was a woman who had committed suicide at the Kilifi Bridge that very morning and she bore a similar name with her daughter.

“The chief in Malindi broke the news to us that she had committed suicide and her national identity card and phone were at the Kilifi police station. We then immediately travelled to Kilifi police station where we confirmed the sad news,” she added.

It is now the fourth day of searching at the Kilifi creek but the body has not been retrieved and now the family is seeking help after the County government told them that it has no divers forcing them to hire local fishermen for the search job.

According to an eye witness who claimed to have seen the incident on Thursday, the deceased arrived in Kilifi town from Malindi at around 5am on Thursday morning and boarded a boda boda heading towards Mnarani area but upon reaching at the middle of the bridge, she stopped the rider, quickly alighted and jumped in the water at the middle of the bridge.

Rescue and search operations had been suspended due to the depth of the creek as divers faced visibility difficulties.

The witness added that the deceased tried to call for help after landing in the water and even tried to swim before she drowned.

Teddy Kalume, the elder brother to the deceased said that the pain they were undergoing was overwhelming adding that they have been forced to spend money to hire local divers and purchase oxygen for them.

“We came here on Thursday and officers from the Kilifi Beach Safety Unit told us to wait for three days before they called us but we didn’t buy their ideas and so we hired some local fishermen to help us retrieve the body. The County government gave us a boat and fuel and said that it does not have professional divers. It is now the fourth day and we are still here,” he said.

He called on the County government of Kilifi to help them with whatever they can so that they can get the body of their sister to bury.

His sentiments were echoed by his younger brother Phillip Chanzera Kalume who said that the family was undergoing immense physiological depression as a result of the death of their sister.

Tom Kai who is the uncle to the deceased asked the national and county government to secure the bridge since depressed individuals were now turning it into a suicide spot.

“The Kilifi bridge is now a suicide area since many people in depression were using it to commit suicide. The government should secure the bridge to prevent such scenes from happening because three people have jumped to their death at the bridge this week alone,” he said.

Abdi Shalo from the Kilifi Boat Operators Association said that cases of people jumping off the Kilifi Bridge which is the longest in Kenya in attempts to commit suicide were on the rise and that many ended up losing their lives because of lack of sea rescue equipment.

“We have seen an increase in the number of people trying to jump over the bridge but we lack diving gear that will make rescue operations smooth. We want the County government to address the issue,” he said.

He however, accused the police manning the bridge laxed patrol along.

Kilifi Sub County Police Commander Kenneth Maina said that he will comment on the matter once the body is retrieved.

According to the family, the police said search and rescue is being conducted by County divers since they don’t have boats and diving equipment

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