Police, Hospital Contradict Each Other on River Yala Bodies

  • Nicholas Okero, a diver who has been helping police to retrieve bodies from River Yala on January 17, 2022.
    Nicholas Okero, a diver who has been helping police to retrieve bodies from River Yala on January 17, 2022.
    Courtesy Boniface Mwangi
  • The River Yala bodies expose have put a spotlight on the police for delaying investigations and subsequently ignoring the plight of families who have missing kin.

    According to Yala Sub County Hospital, divers recovered over 20 dead bodies from the river over the past year. Most of the bodies were retrieved in the last three months of the year 2021.

    However, police have contradicted the hospital reports, especially on the timelines when the bodies were recovered.

    Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso addressing the press.
    Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso addressing the press.
    Capital Group

    Further, police refuted reports by the hospital and human rights groups that over 20 bodies were lying uncollected at the hospital's morgue.

    The hospital, while maintaining that there are bodies still lying in the facility, disputed burying other bodies in a mass grave.

    “The law allows us to dispose of uncollected bodies after 90 days. The bodies in our facility were retrieved in the last three months. Therefore, reports that there is a mass grave somewhere is neither here nor there,” Yala Sub County Hospital medical superintendent, Dr Bruno Okal, stated.

    The National Police Service, through its spokesperson Bruno Shioso, defended the service over accusations of laxity by the members of the public.

    The hospital’s account of when the bodies were retrieved differed from that of the police, with Shioso arguing that the bodies had been retrieved over a period of two years.

    According to police, no family from within Yala had claimed any of the uncollected bodies, raising concerns on the origin of the bodies.

    Human rights activists raised alarm after more than twenty bodies remained unclaimed and two more retrieved from the same river this week.

    The activists have also raised concerns that more bodies may be stuck in the river even as families with missing kin continue to troop to the hospital to try and identify the bodies.

    Families that positively identify the bodies will have to wait longer as police conduct investigations and for the pathologist to conclude post mortem in a bid to establish the cause of deaths.

    According to the police, they are yet to establish crucial leads on the bodies such as age since some of them had decayed or badly mutilated.

    A special crimes team was dispatched from Nairobi and tasked with investigations into the case.

    A collage image of River Yala in Siaya County.
    A collage image of River Yala in Siaya County.
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