On Christmas Day, Lilian Ndanu went to see a family friend in Nyali, Mombasa, but the visit turned tragic after her toddler fell into a hole and died.
The mother of three, who lives in Mtapwa, had visited the family of Mr Bernard Opondo when the incident happened.
“We ate lunch and then all four children went out to play. We did not know that there was a hole outside,” she said.
The boy, Fadhil Rahma, is said to have left the house to play with his friends, never to return.
It's been four days and his body is still lying in the deep hole.
She said the child was discovered to have fallen into the hole by a neighbour who was passing by.
“I came here to celebrate Christmas with my friend. I am shocked that I will go back to my home with a corpse,” the distraught mother said.
Ms Khadija Alamin, the neighbour, said she was passing by when she heard the child calling for his mother from the hole.
She then called the child’s mother and other women at a nearby house to confirm if any of their children were missing.
Voice from hole
“I moved closer to the hole and discovered that a carpet that had covered it was torn apart. I heard the voice of the child calling its mother. I informed the women, who confirmed that Rahma was indeed missing,” she said.
The family of Mr Opondo expressed disappointment at how the authorities have handled the matter.
He said they tried to rescue the boy but failed because the hole was narrow and dark.
“We could hear the voice of the child but we were unable to help. It was very clear from the surface that something had fallen into the hole because the carpet that was loosely placed to cover it had been torn apart,” he said
The Mtopanga resident said neighbours tried to help rescue the boy by digging around the hole but they were stopped by the authorities, who promised to remove the minor.
“But four days later, they have not even tried to help the family to remove the child’s body. The problem is that they have blocked us from retrieving the body,” he said.
The child’s mother, a single parent, claimed that despite repeatedly asking the authorities to help, no efforts have been made to recover the body.
“I want his body to be removed from the hole so that I can go and bury him,” she said.
No response from authorities
Paul Murunga, a resident, said the authorities had failed to respond to the tragedy despite receiving calls from the family and others.
“This house is located near the residence of the village elder, but he has failed to mobilise support. We want the body to be removed from the hole,” he said.
Another resident, Fatuma Kibwana, accused area leaders of failing to assist the family.
“It is now four days but we have not even seen the ward rep and area MP Mohamed Ali. When it comes to campaigns they move door to door but in times of tragedy they are nowhere to be seen,” Ms Kibwana said.
The boy’s mother was concerned that the body may deteriorate considering his age.
“I just want to confirm his death and bury the body even if they retrieve only bones,” she said.
A team of Kenya Navy divers visited the scene at around midday, assessed the situation and left without saying a word to the boy’s mother.
A few minutes later, officers from the Mombasa fire department also arrived and conducted their own assessment.
The Nation understands that they plan to build a concrete block around the borehole to prevent loose soil from caving in.
The water level in the well has risen due to recent heavy rains in the area, further frustrating efforts to recover the body.
The rig that was used to drill the borehole is still lying at the site, with residents saying the owner is a landlord who also lives in the area.