Grief as seven family members who died in dawn fire laid to rest in Embu

Burial of seven family members

Coffins containing the remains of seven members of the same family who died in a suspected arson attack. They were buried at Ngimari village in Embu County.

Photo credit: George Munene I Nation Media Group

Emotions ran high as seven members of the same family who died following suspected arson attack were buried at Ngimarivillage, in Embu County.

The victims, including a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidate were yesterday laid to rest in the same grave, during a sorrowful ceremony which attracted local leaders led by area Governor Cecily Mbarire.

Tears flowed freely as the coffins containing the victims remains were lowered to the grave at 4pm. Some of relatives fainted during the ceremony and first aid services had to be administered to them.

The victims were burnt beyond recognition at dawn on October 2, as they slept in their timber house. Efforts by the villagers to save their colleagues were futile.

Those who perished  were, Charles Kariuki, 50, and his wife Catherine Wanjiru, 46, as well as their three children, a son, Joel Njeru and two daughters, Judy Wanjiku and Maryanne Murugi. Murugi was prior to her death set to sit KCPE in November.

Mourners at Ngimani village

Shocked mourners at Ngimari village in Embu CXounty during the funeral of seven members of the same family.

Photo credit: George Munene I Nation Media Group

The couple's two grandchildren,  Tumaini Blessings and Prince Baraka also lost their lives during the incident which sent shockwaves across the entire village.

According to mourners, the victims were sleeping when the worst happened. They narrated how they heard screams and rushed to the scene, only to find a huge fire engulfing the building.

Mourners described the victims as honest and Godly people who did not deserve to die such a painful death.

"The victims were born again Christians and gave generously towards the service of God but sadly they died in a very cruel manner," lamented pastor Ronald Kariuki of Jesus True Vine Chapel Church.

A relative, Dr Oliver Kariuki narrated how the victims lived a good life free of disputes and that their deaths shook the entire village.

" We have forgiven those who wiped out our relatives but the pain will remain in our hearts forever," said Dr Kariuki.

Leaders doubted that the killer fire was an accident and called on the police to look into the matter. They gave police two weeks’ ultimatum to unearth the killers or they would demonstrate.

"We have given the police 14 days to investigate the matter and bring the killers to book, failure of which I will lead a major demonstration in protest," said Ms Mbarire.

Ms Mbarire said it was likely the victims were locked from outside and their building torched by criminals.

"It is inhuman to eliminate the entire family and we shall not rest until those implicated are revealed and legal action taken against them," said Ms Mbarire.

Embu burial

Embu leaders led by Governor Cecily Mbarire (centre) attend the funeral at Ngimari village, Embu County.

Photo credit: George Munene I Nation Media Group

Embu Senator Alexander Mundigi said it was sad that such a big number of people could be wiped out in an area with security officers and promised to raise the matter in the Senate.

Mr Mundigi asked how a fire could break out in family house without a kitchen.

"The main house does not serve as a kitchen and the fire which killed the victims was deliberately lit," said Mr Mundigi.

Woman Representative Njoki Njeru accused detectives of slow investigations.

"The DCI officers are dragging their feet and as leaders we are not happy. We want to know who snuffed out the lives of our people," said Ms Njeru.

Embu East Deputy Commissioner Jane Waruingi said it was sad the entire family died in a mysterious house fire.

"It is unfortunate no one survived to tell us what transpired," she said.

The administrator said the cause of the fire could not be immediately established.

She said detectives were trying to piece up information with a view of establishing the source of the killer fire.

She appealed to villagers to stop speculation and give detectives time to finish investigations.

However, the administrator asked anyone with crucial information about the incident to give to the detectives.

She reiterated that the government took the matter seriously and that no stone will be left unturned.

Runyenjes MP Eric Muchangi said insecurity was on the rise in the area and residents were living in fear.

" We have had 10 fires in a span of few days and we want to know who are targeting the residents," he said.

Earlier, local MCAs adjourned the House to attend the funeral.

"We have all come here to bury our dear ones who met their death as they were sleeping," Majority leader Peter Muriithi, said.

The MCAs said the incident was the worst to happen in the region in recent times.

"We condemn the incident in the strongest terms possible," said Mr Muriithi.

Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo said a leaders' meeting will be convened to discuss the matter.