Relatives of eight dead persons whose bodies were exhumed by a Chinese contractor at a graveyard in Kiteta, Kyatune Location in Kitui South are pondering performing cleansing rituals to appease the dead.
According to 75 year-old Musango Mulatya, the company went against all African norms by exhuming skulls and other skeletons from the graveyard despite verbal warning from the locals that the area was a graveyard.
Speaking on Thursday at the exposed graveyard, Mulatya said that a tycoon who was believed to be a former State House employee allegedly sold the disputed graveyard at Kiteta to Sinohydro, the Chinese company that is constructing the Kibwezi-Kitui road to excavate murrum.
The excavation has been going on for some time, with residents saying they have witnessed digging up of human skulls and bones together with rotten wooden coffins.
Sister Fransisca Mulatya, a next of kin of the deceased Mutuku Mutunga, the owner of the land said that the patriarch, his three wives and three grandchildren were buried on the land.
Armed with court documents, Mulatya, one of Mutunga’s relatives, showed how a man named Asubuhi Thomas has been claiming their land unsuccessfully, despite a Kitui court having ruled in their favour on the matter in 1991.
According to the ruling, Ngenea Mutuku was given full rights of ownership of the land with a homestead and graveyard.
Following the death of Asubuhi, his son Jonathan Mwinthi entered a contract with the Chinese on the same land to lease a section for a murrum pit for the construction of the road.
“When the excavators started roaring on the site, they exhumed bodies and transported them to the road without their knowledge. As they spread the murrum on the road, they stumbled upon various body parts. They returned the bodies to the site and buried the remains,” said Rose Mutua, a villager.
The disputed land has been a matter of discussion in stormy Land Adjudication Committee sittings in Mutomo over the years that is affecting over 40 households that have lived in the area since time immemorial.
According to 80 year old Zakayo Kimilu, the disputed land was their inheritance and they had set aside a section for a graveyard. He said that traditional rites have to be performed to cleanse the land.
“Human parts from different dead bodies used to be ferried daily by the Chinese company trucks to the construction site of the road, something that we feel is a disgrace and disrespect of the highest order to the dead,” said Sister Mulatya.
They accused the tycoon of grabbing the land, including the graveyard belonging to the family of late Mutuku Mutunga which accommodated eight graves and which has partly been destroyed by the contractor.
The late Mutunga’s third wife, Ngenea Mutuku, who had moved to court 2007 died as an internally displaced person after her house was torched by hired goons with a view to evict her from her land.
However, the late widow moved to court before her death to battle for full ownership of the land.
Kiteta area residents claimed some of Ngenea’s skeletons were among those that were exhumed by the Chinese contractor.
Confirming the incident, Mutumo Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner Jacob Ouma said that his office has taken up the matter following reports made to his office by the next of kin of the deceased eight persons.
“Due process of the law will be followed. The land has been under dispute for the last three decades. We shall pursue the matter through the relevant land adjudication processes and put it to rest once for all,” said Ouma.
The man accused of selling the land to the Chinese road construction company could not be reached for comment.
By Yobesh Onwong’a