When the 82 year old Beuchi Mwingo was laid to rest on April 4, 2020, his family hoped he would finally rest in peace.
He battled a bladder infection, a fight he lost on April 3, 2020. Mwingo’s liver was damaged, too.
But what his family did not know is that in less than two weeks after burying him, they will find his corpse exhumed and tossed on a path leading to his former home, two kilometres from the graveyard.
Mwingo’s youngest grandchild discovered his body on April 15, 2020, wrapped in a blanket, mat, and an iron sheet, as was embalmed. It might have been exhumed the previous night.
Mwingo’s family did not inter him using a coffin.
The deceased’s family suspects a land dispute caused exhumation. The parcel in question is 10 acres, and Mwingo’s family is staking a claim.
Mwingo’s four sons positively identified his body, kicking off 33 hours of tension. Their village in Kituu, Kinango, Kwale, became a no-go-zone. Mwingo’s kin armed themselves and prepared for a night of long knives. But there was no target on sight.
The family held a vigil to “guard” the corpse and shield it from stray dogs. The stench from the body did not dampen their resolve.
MUHURI’s Rapid Response team arrived at the scene on April 16, 2020, at 1 pm, and found the body still at the same tossed spot.
MUHURI’s aim was to quell the tension, block possible violence, mediate, and offer psycho-social support.
Mwingo’s two wives and dozens of relatives – all surrounding the body – were wailing uncontrollably. Villagers watched the deceased’s family from a distance. They empathized, many shaking and bowing their heads in grief.
Rage was clear. Though the family had not reached a consensus on how to handle the body, all members appeared to agree that the corpse should not be touched until exhumers are identified – and punished. This would take days, weeks, months, or years.
There was a health concern, too. Leaving the body exposed increased the chances of Kituu village contracting diseases.
“We have to compromise to protect our health, keep the body in dignity, and push the police to investigate this matter to its logical conclusion, as their duty demands,” MUHURI Rapid Response Officer Francis Auma told Mwingo’s family.
[The body of Beuchi Mwingo after it was exhumed and dumped. Photo/ courtesy/MUHURI].
Kinango OCPD, Fredrick Ombaka, backed Mr. Auma.
“We empathize with you for the loss of your loved one. Police will conduct its probe and take necessary action. But we urge you, let us rebury the body,” Ombaka pleaded.
Finally, the family agreed to reinter.
MUHURI assisted the family to get OB number 7/15/4/2020 at Samburu police station.
Police arrested one villager they said he is a person of interest.
But the suspect, speaking inside a police car, denied any involvement. He spent the night of April 16 at Samburu police station.
Auma cautioned police, asking them to be extremely careful with their investigation, which must be evidence-based.
“This way, the family of the deceased will appreciate justice has been served, and the accused will not complain of victimization,” Auma said.