A church-owned bus ferrying mourners was on Tuesday impounded by police officers in Voi sub-county after it was found ferrying 230 rolls of bhang.
The Sub-County Ward Commander, Bernastein Shali said police were alerted of the illicit cargo in the bus belonging to PEFA North Coast Region and laid an ambush at Ndala area along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
Upon inspection of its cargo, the police discovered 230 rolls of bhang with a street value of Sh.46, 000, stashed among sacks of omena.
“The strong smell of omena was apparently intended to kill the smell of bhang,” said the police boss.
The bus was diverted to Voi Police station where mourners disembarked as a probe started to establish the owner of the drugs. The mourners were returning to Kilifi after attending a burial in Homabay County.
Three people including two drivers have been arrested and will be arraigned in court once investigations are complete.
The church bus was even decorated with several red ribbons, widely accepted as an indicator of grief. The use of a church-bus and tying of the ribbons are suspected to have been used as a ploy to deflect attention and make it easier for the culprits to go through traffic checks along the highway.
One of the drivers, Daniel Ngala, said the bus was hired on Saturday by family members to transport the body for burial in Homa Bay County. After the burial on Monday, the mourners started their journey back to Kilifi with the contraband on board.
Ngala claims they were just as shocked as everybody else at the finding of the bhang in the bus.
However, Voi police boss said churches with buses and other vehicles for hire should ensure they are giving out their vehicles to trustworthy people, adding that criminal elements might use the vehicle for criminal activities to the detriment of their corporate image.
“Churches should make sure they entrust their cars to people of integrity who will not misuse such items,” he said, saying the bus would be held as an exhibit to be used in court.
Over 50 mourners who had attended the burial milled around the compound in confusion, waiting to be cleared to continue with their journey. One of the mourners, who declined to be named, said the discovery of the bhang would be a blow to the image of the church and family of the deceased.
“The vehicle was given in good faith and yet someone evil took advantage and decided to smuggle drugs using a church bus,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi/Yassmin Zuena