February 17, 2020

Shock as body of Kenyan woman preserved in mortuary for 15 years

A family has sent shock waves through Machakos County after a funeral home revealed that they have been preserving their kin’s body for 15 years.

According to the Machakos Funeral Home, they have been keeping the body of a woman following a family dispute that has seen her sons and step-brothers differ on where she should be laid to rest.

The Nation has established that Esther Nzakwa Kitivo died on August 31, 2004, her step-son, Maurice Ndambuki Kitivo, went to court to stop his half-brother, Michael Musau Kitivo, from burying his mother on a piece of land he claimed was given to him by their father before he died.

Mr Maurice sought orders at a magistrate’s court to stop his half-brother (Mr Michael) from burying his mother alongside their father in Kitanga, Machakos County.

Mr Michael argued that the body of a mother should be interred next to her husband’s on the disputed land, according to Kamba customary law.

“Burying her elsewhere could lead to a curse,” Michael said in a 2013 interview.

The magistrate’s court rejected Michael’s submissions noting that a clan had identified a site where Ms Nzakwa would be laid to rest.

Michael did not give up and went ahead to appeal the case at the High Court leading to a decade-long legal tussle.

He was later dealt a major blow after High Court Judge Ruth Sitati upheld the magistrate’s verdict and dismissed the appeal.

A Machakos Funeral Home official, Jemima, stated that relatives of the late Esther had not visited them for years.

She added that a relative of the woman last visited the mortuary in 2013 but has never returned.

“The bill is still rising as each day. It is in millions of shillings. We have not seen her kin for some years now,” Jemima told the Nation.

Kola Location Chief Zipporah Kithyaka affirmed that Nzakwa has not been buried.

“There is a protracted legal battle pitting family members. I hope they will settle their differences for the woman’s soul to have peace,” Kithyaka told the Nation.

Efforts to reach Mr Michael for comment have so far been fruitless.

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