River Yala bodies: Families who have identified their kin to wait longer to bury them
Family members who have identified the bodies of their loved ones among the 23 bodies which were recovered from River Yala in the last three months will have to wait longer for the release of the bodies after the postmortem exercise and DNA sample collection exercise planned for Tuesday failed to take off.
Frustrated family members decried the government's delay in carrying out the exercise saying it has caused mental anguish.
DCI Homicide team which has camped in Yala to conduct investigations into the murders has retrieved two more bodies that were floating in River Yala on Tuesday, raising the number of bodies retrieved from the river in two days to five.
It is at the Yala Hospital Mortuary where the families of the late Philemon Chepkwony and the late Peter Mutuku camped for the better part of Tuesday.
Having traveled from Kipkelion and Kangundo respectively, the two families expected that they would leave the morgue with the remains of their loved ones after the postmortem exercise which was to be conducted on Monday and was postponed to Tuesday.
To their shock, they were informed that they will have to wait longer for the release of the bodies.
"DCI tumeongea na wao tukaambiwa madaktari wamekuja wafanye postmortem na DNA na hadi wa sasa postmortem na DNA hazijafanywa. DCI wamekuja hapa wakafanya vitu vyao wakaenda,” Mutuku's brother Sosias Mutiso said.
“We were requesting for them to do it faster and collect the samples they need for the DNA so we can take our brother home and put him to rest,” Nami Cheptoo, Chepkwoni’s sister stated.
Mutiso said they had set aside Friday for the burial after identifying Mutuku's body last week.
"Hatujui sasa kama DNA itaisha kesho, post-mortem itafanywa kesho ama itafanywa lini na unajua nyumbani tulikuwa tumepanga mazishi on Friday sasa watu nyumba wanangojea ripoti, kuna watoto hawaendi shule kwa sababu wanangoja mazishi ya baba yao, kuna ndugu zao pia hawaendi kazi sababu walikuwa wameomba ruhusa,” he added.
The family members who are undergoing counseling have to wait for chief government pathologist Dr. Johansen Odour who is expected to head the postmortem exercise.
"Hizo miili za watu wameweka huko hawajaweka place poa, tumeenda ndani mamili zimewekwa zimelaliana nafikira serikali yetu kweli tuko wapi. Kweli tuko Kenya?” Phylista Cherop, Chepkwony's sister posed.
HAKI Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid called on the government to fasten the process of identification.
"As human rights organizations, we want to know the cause of the death. As you know right now, bodies are appearing everywhere,” Khalid said.
Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo said: "Yala is not a place to dump bodies…I repeat it is not a place to dump bodies, because River Yala is used by these mothers for cooking and washing our clothes.”
Meanwhile, the DCI homicide team which is in Yala to probe the mysterious dumping of the bodies has retrieved five bodies that were floating in the river.
Three bodies were retrieved on Monday while two bodies were retrieved later on Tuesday and taken to the Yala hospital morgue.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i has appealed to the members of the public not to speculate on the cause of deaths of those found dumped promising that thorough investigations will be conducted.
“A lot of work is going on; the DCI, the forensic team is there and a very strong homicide team sent by the IG is working on this. I will be patient and wait for the report from that tea and the IG when that work has been completed. I would not want to speculate on that matter,” CS Matiang’i said.