Family wants Sakaja to release body of kin killed fleeing ‘kanjo’ askaris

A family in Murang’a County is depressed after City County askaris allegedly caused the accident that killed their son 260 days ago.

To add insult to injury, City County now wants the family to part with Sh200,000 to get the body for burial.

“I strongly believe that Governor Johnson Sakaja should release the body of my son Antony Ngugi so that I can bury him on my land. I am willing to forgive the cause of death,” said Mr George Nyaga of Lower Kakuzi village.

He says his son was a hawker in Nairobi city centre, selling women’s panties, and on 27 January 2023, near the Roysambu roundabout, Ngugi encountered town askaris who wanted to arrest him.

“Eyewitnesses told me that Ngugi ran away in an attempt to evade arrest, with three officers in pursuit. He was about to cross the busy Superhighway and escape when he was hit by a speeding vehicle,” he said.

Mr Nyaga now believes that had the askaris not chased Mr Ngugi, he would not have panicked in desperation to escape the consequences of his arrest and blindly jumped into a busy highway.

According to the incident report at Kasarani police station, reference OB 10, dated 27 January 2023, Mr Ngugi met his demise at about 1.30pm.

“An incident occurred in which the unidentified male of youthful age jumped into the busy road and an oncoming motor vehicle hit him, killing him after he sustained serious injuries to his head and other parts of his body,” the report said.

It added that the vehicle responsible for the death did not stop and remained unknown.

Mr Nyaga said he and other family members were unaware of the incident “because we thought he was still going about his business in town”.

He says it was not unusual for his son not to contact him “because life was hard for him and I understood perfectly if he stayed for a long time without visiting or calling”.

In this contentment, he waited for his son to visit or call, but it was not to be.

It was on September 24, 2023, that a matatu hawker in Junction town in Ithanga Kakuzi Sub County, Mr Joseph Mulwa, while leafing through the Sunday Nation newspaper, became interested in an advertisement about unclaimed corpses that Nairobi County wanted to dispose of.

“For no definable reason, I instinctively scanned through the names and on entry 62, I found the name of Mr Ngugi introduced as a resident of Ithanga, which is also my village,” he said.

Excited or alarmed, Mr Mulwa says he asked around for anyone with that name who has been missing since January.

“It is incomprehensible how it all fitted together, as the deceased sister was in town and he confirmed that she had a brother who had not communicated with family members since January,” he said.

The advertisement declared the intention to dispose of 193 unclaimed bodies currently lying at the City Mortuary and Mama Lucy Hospital.

The Chief Officer for Urban Development and Planning, Mr Patrick Analo, appealed to the public to collect unclaimed bodies within 7 days or they would be disposed of in a public cemetery.

According to the Public Health Act, an unclaimed body should normally be removed from a mortuary within two weeks.

So Mr Nyaga, who uses a donkey to fetch water, was tracked down and told to go to Nairobi City Mortuary, where the advertisement said the body would be preserved.

“To cut a long story short, I travelled to Nairobi with donated money and spent a week trying to verify the identity of the body. I had to travel from the mortuary to Kasarani police station and to the registrar’s office for clarifications,” he said.

Mr Nyaga says there was nothing on the body to help him identify it.

“It was a skeleton with only a small patch of dried skin on the stomach. It is the Kasarani police station that has clarified to me that an officer assigned to identify the body took the fingerprints and went to the Registrar of Persons Bureau for a repeat,” he said.

He added that the Kasarani police station had in turn called Ithanga Assistant County Commissioner Ms Dorcas Mwangi in February, instructing her to contact my family to collect the body “but no such communication was made to us”.

Ms Mwangi said the communication had indeed been sent to the chief of Lower Kakuzi, but it appeared that the name did not resonate with the locals, making it impossible to locate the house.

“That is a lie… the chief is my immediate neighbour and knows all my children by name and the letter sent to his office identified the body even by our clan after the details popped up from the Registrar of Persons database,” he said.

But he says that is now water under the bridge “because we have finally reached a situation where we have a body, mourning and a burial to come”.

The problem, he says, is that “Kasarani Police Station wants Sh5,320 as service charges for the work done to identify the body”.

He adds that the City County Mortuary has demanded Sh185,000 by 13 October as preservation costs, “not to mention the Sh15,000 demanded for a post-mortem”.

Mr Nyaga said, “If I were in a position to raise that kind of money, I would pay without question so that I can bury my son and begin the process of healing. But there is nothing in my poor life that can be pawned or sold to pay such a huge bill”.

He said his life had been a struggle, especially now that he was a widower after his wife died a year ago.

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