Family's hope of receiving kin's body from Saudi diminishes as agent vanishes

Ms Miriam Hannah Njeri who died in August under mysterious circumstances while at a deportation facility in Saudi Arabia. Her family has not received her body for burial despite being informed that she died four months ago

Photo credit: Courtesy

A family in Gilgil, Nakuru County, is struggling to bring back the body of a 26-year-old woman who died in unclear circumstances in Saudi Arabia four months ago.

Their pain has been exacerbated because the agent who linked her to a job in the Middle East country cannot be found. 

Miriam Hannah Njeri, from Emburua village, died eleven months after arriving in the kingdom. Her family only learnt about her death in August from the woman’s friend, who is also said to be stranded in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Njeri’s husband, Jackson Karanja, said the friend told him she died under unclear circumstances on August 19 after she reportedly fell from the third floor of a building.

Her lifeless body was found on the floor at a deportation centre where she was being held as she waited to be sent back to Kenya after being mistreated by her boss.

Mr Karanja said he visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices two days after receiving the news and was promised that his wife's remains would be repatriated to Kenya for burial but that has not happened.

He said his frequent visits to the ministry’s offices and his phone calls inquiring about the status of the process had been fruitless, leaving the family devastated and unsure whether they will give their relative a decent burial.

The family says they haven’t received much support from the Foreign Affairs ministry and the Kenyan Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mr Karanja said that when he asked the ministry about the status of the matter, he was told that there was a case between the hospital that received the body of Ms Njeri and the deportation facility, thus holding the repatriation process.

He was told that the deportation centre had alleged that Ms Njeri died while receiving treatment, while the hospital indicated she was received at the facility already dead.

On his last visit to the ministry offices on November 17, he said, he was told officials were waiting for another death report from Saudi Arabia before the body could be released.

“I have been a frequent visitor at the ministry offices, but what I am getting is that I should just wait,” Mr Karanja said.

Mr Jackson Karanja the husband of Ms Miriam Hannah Njeri who died under mysterious circumstances while at a deportation facility in Saudi Arabia. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“My family is devastated. The children are asking if they will ever bury their mother, but I don’t have answers to their question. I am just hoping that things will work out.

“The deportation centre does not want to accept that she died there because they will be told to cater for all expenses.”

He said the family received a report dated September 1 from a South Arabia forensic medical specialist called Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz Al-Orani that included the results of an autopsy.

Mr Abdulaziz said in his report that a letter he had received from the police showed that the body was found surrounded by copious blood and bleeding from the mouth and nose, with an injury on the forehead and head.

The police report said Ms Njeri was trying to escape from the fourth floor of a building through space that held an air conditioner but she fell and died.

An autopsy report said the cause of her death was “severe congestive decline in the blood and respiratory circulation that led to cardiac and respiratory arrest”.

“We can say that the death of the above mentioned occurred as a result of a fall from a height and the resulting traumatic injury to the head, accompanied by multiple fractures of the skull bones, lacerations in the brain and hemorrhagic strokes in the brain …,” the report said.

Mr Karanja said his wife left Kenya in April last year after attending a three-week training in Thika organised by an agent who was facilitating her trip to the kingdom. She had been convinced by her friends that she would be paid well.

Mr Karanja said his wife was planning to open a business upon returning to Kenya after completing her two-year contract but her dream was cut short by her death.

He said he last spoke with his wife in July, when she requested Sh40,000 to facilitate her return to Kenya, citing mistreatment, lack of food and congestion at the facility where she stayed for one week.

He asked his friends for cash, but his text message inquiring how to send the money to her went answered for two days. He did not suspect foul play and thought that she had run out of data.

“When we last spoke, she just wanted to come back home to see our children. She was not suicidal; nobody has reached out to explain to me what really happened to my wife,” he said.

“I don’t know if she was killed or she took her own life. For now, I just want her body for burial.”

The couple were married for 10 years and were blessed with two children, who are now under the care of their grandmother.