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Shock and grief as body is exhumed following family dispute

When Bora Beuch Mwingo got buried on April 4, 2020, his family hoped he would finally rest in peace.
Mwingo lived a troubled life for most of his 82 years as he battled a bladder infection, a fight he lost on April 3, 2020.
The deceased’s liver was also damaged, but what his family did not know was that in less than two weeks after burying him, they would find his corpse exhumed and tossed on a path leading to his former homestead, two kilometers from the gravesite.
Mwingo’s youngest grandchild discovered his body at 6 am Wednesday, wrapped in a blanket, mat, and an iron sheet, as HE was embalmed. It might have been exhumed the previous night.
They said they were cutting expenses in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, thus they did not inter him with a coffin.
Some of the deceased’s family members who spoke to the press suspected that a land dispute caused the exhumation.
The parcel in question is 10 acres piece of land, which Mwingo’s family is staking a claim to, so do their distant relatives.
Mwingo’s four sons positively identified his body, kicking off hours of tension in their village in Kituu, Kinango sub county of Kwale.
The family held a vigil to “guard” the corpse and shield it from stray dogs, despite the strong stench from the body that did not dampen their resolve.
Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) rapid response team arrived at the scene Thursday at 1 pm, and found the body still lying at the same spot it was tossed.
Muhuri officials wanted to quell the tension, block possible violence, mediate, and offer psychosocial support.
Mwingo’s two wives and dozens of relatives all surrounding the body were wailing uncontrollably as shocked villagers watched the scene from a distance.
Rage was palpable and 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 the exhumers are identified and punished. This would take days, weeks, months, or years.
There was a health concern too, as 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 entreated the family.
Kinango sub county police commander Fredrick Ombaka joined the human rights activists in calling for calm.
“We empathize with you for the loss of your loved one and we will launch a probe and take necessary action but we urge you to rebury the body,” Ombaka pleaded.
The police chief said they have arrested one person who is assisting them with investigations and called for patience.
However, after a prolonged persuasion, the family finally agreed to rebury the body.
Muhuri assisted the family to get OB number 7/15/4/2020 at the Samburu police station in Kinango.
Auma cautioned police, asking them to be extremely careful with their investigation, which must be evidence-based.
“Let it not be a knee-jerk reaction police must deliver justice on both sides by giving any suspect a fair hearing, and if he is culpable, officers should arraign him in court” he said.
“This way, the family of the deceased will appreciate justice has been served, and the accused will not complain of victimization” Auma said.
For the feuding factions, Muhuri urged them to choose peace over violence and end the family wrangles amicably.
By Hussein Abdullahi

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