Rights groups demand fresh post-mortem for activist Godfrey Onyango

Dr Godfrey Onyango

Dr Godfrey Onyango, the chairman of Justice and Environment Foundation, was found dead at his home in Nakuru County on March 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

A lobby group has demanded a repeat post-mortem and further investigations into the death of activist Godfrey Onyango, a key figure in the sexual abuse case against managers and supervisors at two tea multinationals in the South Rift region. This comes days after an autopsy done on Monday, March 27, 2023 found that the cause of death was suicide

Dr Onyango was found dead at his home in Lanet, Nakuru County. An examination by Government Pathologist Titus Ngulungu found that the activist died from asphyxiation, caused by a sliding noose neck compression. His family witnessed the procedure.

Dr Onyango, who was the chairman of the Justice and Environment Foundation, was involved in the petition by current and former workers of Ekaterra (formerly Unilever) and James Finlay operating in Bomet and Kericho counties. He was pushing for the two companies to admit liability for exposing the workers to sexual exploitation by managers and supervisors.

But now, human rights organisation Haki Africa says it is not satisfied with the post-mortem results and is demanding a fresh exam.

“Dr Onyango had repeatedly expressed fear for his life in his communication with Gilbert Kemboi (a Nakuru-based lawyer involved in the case), journalists and friends,” Haki Africa’s Rapid Response Officer Fredrick Ojiro said.

gilbert kemboi

Kericho based advocate Gilbert Kemboi (centre), Mr David Langat (left) and trade unionist Godfrey Oyango (right), chairman of the Justice and Environment Foundation, speak to journalists at Sunshine hotel in Kericho town on March 6, 2023. Mr Kemboi announced a compensation suit against James Finlay and Ekaterra tea companies.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

Along with Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) Kericho branch Executive Secretary Dickson Sang, he claimed that the circumstances of his death do not make sense. 

"We will write to Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome and Director of Criminal Investigations Amin Mohamed Ibrahim to investigate the matter," he added. 

Haki Africa also said it is seeking protection for Mr Kemboi, whistleblowers and petitioners in the sexual exploitation case filed at the Kericho High Court against the tea companies. The lawyer has recorded a statement with the DCI in Kericho and has also expressed fear for his life.