Pain, Agony as Families Positively Identify Kin Retrieved from River Yala

  • River Yala
    Nicholas Okero, a diver who has been helping police to retrieve bodies from River Yala on January 17, 2022
    Boniface Mwangi
  • Two families positively identified the bodies of their kin on Thursday, January 20, at the Yala Sub County Hospital mortuary, amid a public outcry on the surge of unidentified bodies at the facility.

    The families were overwhelmed with emotions, but expressed relief as they would now proceed to give their kin decent send off. Most of the bodies were badly mutilated, indicating that the deceased were tortured before being eventually killed.

    Meshack Chepkwony and his brother Ben Chepkwony, made a breakthrough early Thursday, January 20, by identifying their brother, Philemon Chepkwony, who went missing without a trace. They were, however, distraught by the state his body.

    “He usually had a bangle and ring, so that helped us in positively identifying him. He has been missing for a while, yet he has been lying here,” stated Meshack.

    Yala Sub County Hospital Mortuary
    The Yala Sub County Hospital Mortuary gate
    Boniface Mwangi

    They also managed to positively identify another man, Peter Matuku, who went missing along with their brother.

    Matuku and Philemon Chepkwony went missing on a day they were travelling together with two other people. They were last spotted along the Nakuru - Nairobi highway. The vehicle they were travelling in would later be found abandoned in Gilgil, Nakuru County.

    “It is very shocking. He was tortured. Looks like he had multiple stab wounds in his abdomen and on his head as well. It has left me wondering whether he was a terrorist to have been killed in such a way,” Meshack added.

    For some families, however, things did not go as expected as they could not positively identify their kin.

    “We have checked the bodies. There is one we suspect might be him but we are yet to confirm. There is a heap of bodies, and we are hoping the mortuary attendants will help us,” stated one of the distraught family members.

    “The bodies are not in a good state. Some have body parts chopped off, while others look like they were scarred by acid. You have to be mentally and emotionally strong to view the bodies,” added yet another family member who had gone to try identify their kin.

    Over the last one week, Kenyans have taken to social media to raise concerns over a report by human rights activist, Boniface Mwangi, through his official Twitter account that tens of bodies had been retrieved from River Yala.

    Mwangi visited the river together with Haki Africa Executive Director, Hussein Khalid.

    Over 20 unidentified bodies had been retrieved from the said river in a span of three months. Police, however, dispute the report.

    Boniface Mwangi Hussein Khalid
    Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid (left) and activist Boniface Mwangi visited River Yala in January 2022 after an outcry over dead bodies dumped at the river.
    Boniface Mwangi
    dead terrorist killed suspect