Drama as Kennedy Onyango's family clashes over burial site

Family fights over where to bury body of 12-year-old shot during Rongai protests

There was drama at a home in Kamasengre village in Rusinga Island, Homa Bay County, during the failed burial of Kennedy Onyango.

Two families clashed as they claimed the body of Onyango, a 12-year-old boy who was shot dead during anti-government protests.

Police had to intervene to control the two aggrieved families, who both wanted to bury the boy in different places.

Onyango was killed in Ongata-Rongai, Nairobi.

His mother, Jocinta Anyango, had planned to bury her son on Rusinga Island in Mbita sub-county on Friday.

Jocinta Anyango

Ms Jocinta Anyango, the mother of Kennedy Onyango, 12, is overwhelmed by grief after viewing her son’s body at Ongata Rongai Sub-County Hospital mortuary on July 5, 2024.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

But another family, led by Anyango's ex-husband Denish Okinyi, wanted to bury the boy elsewhere in the Rangwa East sub-location in the neighbouring Suba sub-county.

Ms Anyango and Mr Okinyi lived as a couple but separated in 2022.

Onyango initially lived with his father before being sent to live with his mother.

Mr Okinyi wanted Kennedy to be buried at his home in Kisaku Village in Kaksingri West Location and not where the mother had taken the body.

Ms Anyango and other family members had first collected the body from the mortuary in the capital before travelling to Homa Bay.

The body arrived in Rusinga on Friday afternoon.

But as soon as they got home, Mr Okinyi's family stormed the home, demanding the body for burial.

First family

With them was a court order restraining the first family from burying Onyango.

Mr Okinyi had earlier rushed to the Mbita magistrate's court to obtain an order stopping Ms Anyango from burying her son.

He was accompanied by a group of police officers who ensured that the court order was obeyed.

For some time, the two families confronted each other and exchanged harsh words.

According to witnesses, Ms Anyango was accompanied by friends and other family members from Nairobi who at times engaged the other family in verbal confrontation.

It took the intervention of police officers to defuse the rising tension.

Both families were asked to put aside their differences and obey the court's orders.

In the court order, Mbita Chief Magistrate Nicodemus Moseti certified the matter as urgent.

He ordered that Onyango's body be taken to the sub-county hospital mortuary for preservation.

Serve the application

"The OCS Mbita is ordered to enforce through orders herein. The applicant to serve the application upon the respondents before the close of business today," the magistrate directed.

Moseti set a hearing between the parties for July 17.

The court document warned that failure to comply with the order would constitute contempt of court, punishable by six months imprisonment.

The court will decide between Ms Anyango and Mr Okinyi who will bury the boy.

Meanwhile, the families moved to Mbita police station with the body after the court order was served.

Despite the presence of the police, the confrontation between the families escalated.

According to Ms Angango, her ex-husband was absent when she needed him most.

"When I called him to give him the information that my son was dead, he abused me," she was heard saying in a phone conversation.

The police had to use the court order to resolve the matter temporarily.

Onyango's body was taken to the mortuary at Sindo Sub-county Hospital.

Taken away from her

In another video, Ms Anyango is heard claiming that her son's body has been taken away from her.

She is seen crying loudly and pleading for help to get the body back and bury him.

"Nimenyang'anywa mtoto na maaskari (The police have taken my son)," she cries as she is comforted by mourners.

According to her, all she wanted was to have Onyango's grave in Kamasengre, where she could point when people asked where the body was.

Mr Edmond Kobil, the lawyer representing Mr Okinyi, said his client wanted the body to be kept close to his home where burial arrangements would be easy.

Onyango was initially reported to have been shot eight times during anti-government protests.

President William Ruto later said the boy was killed by a single bullet.

The head of state said that the trigger that killed Onyango was fired by a criminal who had been arrested by police during a robbery attempt.

It has also emerged that President Ruto spoke to Ms Anyango over the death of her son.

Mr Kenneth Ouma, Mr Okinyi's brother, said the family wanted answers from the government.

"We just want justice for our son. We want to know who killed him," he said.