Relatives ask court to order Siaya virus victim exhumed

Friday, April 17th, 2020 00:00 | By
World Health Organisation. Photo/Courtesy

Eric Juma

The Family of Siaya Covid-19 victim James Oyugi Onyango have gone to court to challenge the government over the controversial burial of their kin at Ukwala. 

The deceased’s children Brian Oyugi and Joan Ajwang moved to court to compel the government to exhume their father’s body for autopsy processes and decent re-burial. Case is set for hearing tomorrow.

Brian and Joan claim health personnel in Siaya did not consult them neither were they issued with post-mortem or Covid 19 results.

They are demanding that an autopsy be done to ascertain the actual cause of death and that a decent burial be accorded him thereafter, adding that spirits of their father have been haunting them.

Safe management

Should it be found that he died as a result of coronavirus, the family says he should be given a decent burial in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on the safe management of a body.

“We want to know if the person buried was our father and know exactly what killed him and in case reports turn out to be Covid 19, we give him a decent burial as per the WHO protocols,” said Brian.

Oyugi’s kin also want to be allowed to nominate a maximum of 15 people from immediate or extended family members to witness the autopsy.

“Ever since our father died, we have encountered frustrations from government officials purporting to be enforcing laws curbing spread of the virus,” he said,  adding that going forward they would request for cooperation and if possible be allowed to nominate at least 15 family members to witness autopsy but in full protective gears.

In this case, Simur Location Chief Michael Osodo and Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe are listed as first and second respondents respectively.

 Attorney General is the third respondent and the Law Society of Kenya as an interested party.

The undignified burial that went viral forced Governor Cornel Rasanga to apologise to the bereaved family and formed a five-member committee to probe and give reports on controversial burial.

As the Oyugis family struggle to have the body exhumed, the Ministry of Health has insisted that Luo burial rites have been suspended until the Covid-19 is under control.

Health Director General  Dr Patrick Amoth who paid last respect to Oyugi at his Ukwala home on Wednesday vowed not to relent in the fight against coronavirus.

“We have come home to pay last respect to Oyugi and also to warn Kenyans especially Luo community, to help us fight the pandemic by suspending cultures that attract gatherings such as funerals till we beat this scourge,” he said.

Amoth hailed County Health Management Team and Emergency Response Committee, headed by  Rasanga, for acting swiftly in tracing and confining direct contacts to victims of Covid 19.

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