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Efforts to bury man who died of covid-19 by friends thwarted

Efforts by friends of a taxi –driver who died of COVID-19 at the Kiambu Level 5 hospital on Monday to bury him without observing burial protocols instituted by Government were yesterday thwarted by a contingent of police officers from Kiambu and Githunguri police stations.

The friends and colleagues most of them taxi-drivers in Ruaka of Kiambaa, Kiambu county arrived at the Kiambu Hospital morgue as early as 6.00a.m to collect the body of Daniel Wainaina Gitau(28) which was scheduled for burial at Gatugu village of Kiambururu in Githunguri sub-county

As they began to process the body for discharge, they were told to go and purchase a polythene paper that would be used to wrap the coffin so that those who handled it were protected from any infection since the deceased had succumbed to COVID-19, and that this was a requirement.

This did not go well with the friends who refuted the cause of death and insisted that their friend had always ailed from Leukemia.Half-heartedly, they went and bought the polythene as advised and handed it over to the morgue attendants.

As the young men and women continued to become unruly and chaotic claiming that their friend did not die of the killer virus and that the Government was criminalizing people who succumbed to the disease, they demanded to be given the medical report from KEMRI where his specimen had been tested.

Teresia Wanjiru Kimani the hospital’s public health officer in charge of sanitation who was processing the discharge of the body, advised them to wait as she extracted the results which were on a spreadsheet and contained other people’s confidential information.

It was at this juncture that their patience ran out and since they could not wait any longer, the hospital administrator Mr. Eston Mbuthia called Kiambu sub-county police officer for officers to escort the body to the burial site at Gatugu in Githunguri.

Upon arrival of the officers as the hospital made arrangements for officers with PPE’s to accompany the body, the rowdy friends commandeered the driver of the hearse to drive off so that they could give their friend a decent send off.

Another shocker awaited them because instead of the driver heading to the home, he was instructed by the hospital administration to head to Githunguri police station where they were to be teamed up with the surveillance team who have been mandated to bury all people who succumbed to COVID-19.

The stop-over at Githunguri police station did not go well with them and a crowd started surging into the police station to witness the unfolding events but were repulsed by officers from the station who quickly rushed to take charge of the situation.

At Githunguri, the Kiambu team was reinforced as some mourners continued to become abusive and unruly despite the fact that they were seeing armed police officers in their midst. When the surveillance team was ready, they began the journey to the burial site and found a multitude of people awaiting to witness the ceremony.

The delay by the surveillance team to bury the deceased further irked them and after the body was laid in the grave at about 4.30 p.m. the surveillance team handed over the equipment to the young men to cover the grave as the officers departed back to the stations and the surveillance team sprayed the graveside. They had earlier insisted that the undertakers use the lowering gears as they had paid for them instead of the ropes.

KNA heard one of the friends say, “We cannot allow you people to bury Wainaina like a dog. Even if he has died of COVID, what crime has he committed to deserve this kind of treatment in death?”

The deceased born in a family of 4 is survived by his widow and one child. His parents are also still alive.

Reverend Mary Muriuki of PCEA, Banana Parish who is the pastor to the deceased in Ruaka while calming the crowd explained to them that the hospital had revealed to the family that their kin had succumbed to COVID -19 on Tuesday and they had accepted. So friends and colleagues have no locus standi to refute the results as it’s the parents who had lost their loved one and not the friends who had caused unnecessary chaos since morning which had consequently delayed the burial rights.

Reverend Dr.Joseph Wairi of PCEA Kamuchege parish told KNA that the mourners had arrived at the burial site by 10.00a.m and were peaceful during the service. The people who had brought chaos that threatened to disrupt peace were his friends from Ruaka. The two religious leaders continuously pleaded with the mourners to maintain peace and give their kin a warm send off.

By Lydia Shiloya

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