A woman who died in Saudi Arabia five months ago was finally laid to rest in an emotional sendoff amid calls for the government to enact relevant laws to protect Kenyans working in the Middle East.
Ms Jackline Muthoni, 40, died under unclear circumstances on June 10, 2022, but her family at Kanyakine, Imenti South in Meru learnt of her demise four months later.
She was about to be buried in a mass grave, were it not for former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who intervened and repatriated her body alongside two others.
Mr Sonko, who said he had spent over Sh2.9 million on tickets and mortuary fees, told of how they were processing the bodies of – Mercy Mbula who hails from Machakos County and Lucy Mwanyae from Kilifi when they were told there was another body of a Kenyan that was about to be disposed of.
“We were informed that Muthoni died in June and her body was about to be buried in a mass grave so we decided to bring her back so that her family could give her a decent send off,” said Mr Sonko during the funeral service at Kanyakine Polytechnic where he was accompanied by his successor, Ms Anne Kananu on Friday.
Area MP Dr Shadrack Mwiti was also represented by his constituency office manager, Mr Kinoti Riungu.
Ms Muthoni travelled to the Middle East country to work there 10 years ago, leaving her two girls, now 12 and 18 years old. Her mother, Ms Jane Kiambi said she lost her husband in 2006 while her two sons died in 2006 and 2017 respectively.
According to Mr Sonko, the suspect accused of murdering Ms Mbula allegedly doused her in an acid in a fight. The woman is in currently in remand in Saudi Arabia awaiting execution, he said.
“We were told that the suspect would be sentenced to hang in line with laws in that country and at the moment we are trying to negotiate with Mbula’s family so that they can write to the authorities in Saudi Arabia indicating they had forgiven her. That is the only way we can save her life,” Ms Sonko said.
Meru politician Rogers Kipembe pledged to educate Ms Muthoni’s younger child who sad her Grade Six examination in the just concluded Kenya Primary School Examination Assessment.
“This is a vulnerable family and I pledge to educate the second born girl to the level she would wish to study. It is imperative that those who are blessed should help the needy in the society,” Mr Kipembe said.
Ms Kananu called on the government to put into place policies to protect Kenyans working in the Middle East, adding that she would present a petition in parliament and push for the laws to be enacted.
“It is sad that we don’t even have data on all the people working in the Middle East and who they are working for. I will petition parliament so that a system is put into place to ensure we know who is where, working for who and what4 type of job,” she said.
“The agents should also be registered with the Foreign Affairs ministry so that we as leaders should be responsible. There is no way a Kenyan can die in foreign land only to be discovered four months later and nobody is being held to account. This is unacceptable and something must be done,” Ms Kananu added.