Pool attendant charged after Grade Two boy drowns at Visa Oshwal Primary School

Ilas Abdikarim Ali, a Grade Two pupil Visa Oshwal Primary School in Westlands area, Nairobi drowned on  Tuesday 20 February at the school's swimming pool. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Visa Oshwal pool attendant allegedly failed to restrain an 11-year-old pupil from getting into a swimming pool where he drowned.
  • Ilas Abdikarim Ali, a Grade Two pupil had transferred to the school a day before the unfortunate tragedy struck.

A court has allowed detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to detain a swimming pool attendant at Visa Oshwal Primary School who allegedly failed to stop a pupil from entering a swimming pool where he drowned.

Pool attendant in Visa Oshwal pupil drowning case detained

Milimani Magistrate Geoffrey Onsarigo ordered Geoffrey Juma Opala to be remanded in custody for seven days at Parklands Police Station to assist the police with their investigations.

"This court finds that the police's request to detain Opala for seven days is justified considering the loss of a young student's life," ruled Onsarigo.

Geoffrey Juma Opala a swimming pool attendant at Visa Oshwal Primary School at the Milimani law courts where he was arraigned over the death of a pupil at the school's swimming pool.  

Photo credit: Richard Munguti| Nation

The magistrate rejected the suspect's request to be released on bail, "even after he promised to abide by the conditions that will be imposed".

Police Constable Clare Wafula applied for the warrant, saying they were investigating a case of dereliction of duty against Geoffrey Juma Opala and wanted to detain him at Parklands police station for seven days.

Ms Wafula said the body of 11-year-old learner Ilas Abdikarim Ali was found in the pool on February 20 and Opala was on duty on the same day.  

"The respondent (Opala) was arrested on February 22, 2024 on suspicion of committing an offence of neglecting official duty contrary to section 128 read with section 36 of the Penal Code," Ms Wafula said in an affidavit submitted to the magistrate.

"The respondent (Opala) was captured on CCTV footage on duty when the deceased went to the swimming pool and later the body was discovered drowned in the pool."

The detective says Opala deliberately failed to prevent the minor from entering the pool.

"When it was discovered that the deceased was missing, the accused (Opala) failed to inform the school management and parents that the deceased had walked past him towards the swimming pool," says Ms Wafula.

Opala denied having seen the minor after the deceased's family pressed him to disclose his whereabouts.

According to Ms Wafula, Opala later told the family that he had searched the swimming pool and recovered the body in the absence of the family and the school’s staff.  

Ms Wafula says preliminary investigations by the DCI revealed that the minor died of drowning. It was not yet established whether it was caused by somebody or it was accidental.

She said Opala has been interrogated but declined to disclose where he lives hence it will be very difficult to trace him in case investigations lead to his prosecution.

The detective said if released, Opala is likely to interfere with witnesses yet to be traced and some of them include his workmates.

“Owing to the gravity of the charges facing (Opala) and the fact that he has no known place of abode, he poses a flight risk,” Ms Wafula stated.

The late Ilas Abdikarim Ali was reported missing on Tuesday evening when his father went to pick him up from school.

His body was later found inside the school's swimming pool on Wednesday morning.

The pupil was a Grade Two pupil had transferred to the school a day before the unfortunate tragedy struck.