Mystery around death of Form One student who fell ill at Njoro school

whitney njoki

Whitney Njoki, a 14-year-old Form One student of Njoro Girls' High School in Nakuru County, who died on March 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

Mystery surrounds the death of a Form One student at Njoro Girls' High School in Nakuru County, moments after she was rushed to hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Whitney Njoki,14, fell sick while in school and was taken to Njoro Sub-county Hospital.

Her father, Mr Peter Wanaina, said he received a phone call from the principal, asking him to rush to school, but not divulging much information.

"The principal called and asked me to call her once l was in Njoro Town. l was later instructed not to proceed to school but instead rush to the hospital," he said. "Once at the hospital, the principal never disclosed anything but instead asked me to be calm and wait for the doctor.”

News of his first born daughter's death was relayed shortly after by the doctor who had attended to her.

“As a parent I want to know what  led to my daughter’s death. When we brought her here, her school health history file indicated she was okay. She had no condition. This was not her first time in boarding school. She attended one in primary. I am ruling out any underlying condition,” said Mr Wainaina.

Peter Wainaina

Peter Wainaina, Whitney Njoki's father, addresses the press outside Njoro Girls' High School, which she attended until her death on March 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

Mr Wanaina said Whitney was admitted to the school on February 7 and was to take her half term break on March 15. The family was waiting eagerly for her return home for the break, he said, adding that for the one month she was in school, they were not notified of any illness.

Whitney’s mother, Ms Irine Kagiri, said she last saw her daughter in February and was looking forward to picking her up on Wednesday for the half term break. Now that she has died, she said, all she is left with are memories.

Ms Kagiri said the school informed them that Whitney complained on Thursday morning of pain caused by tonsils. The situation worsened so she was taken to hospital but she died there.

“She was a bright and polite student. When I viewed her body there was blood in her mouth and nose. The school claimed that she had tonsils. Does that cause bleeding? I don’t believe them. We will conduct a postmortem to know the cause of death,” she said.

Jeremiah Gichia, Whitney's uncle, said his brother called him terrified, asking him to rush to the Njoro hospital, as his daughter had died under unclear circumstances.

He said they were asked to report the matter to the police, which they did, vide OB 40/9/3/2023, and were given permission to move the body to Egerton University mortuary.

Njoro Girls' HIgh School

The main entrance to Njoro Girls' HIgh School in Nakuru County.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

Mr Gichia regretted that the school administration declined to give them full information on Whitney's death, raising questions on what transpired. He called on police to investigate the matter for the family to get closure.

"We won't speculate on anything but we want answers. We have come to pick her belongings but the school administration is not cooperating. The principal ordered the security guard to lock the gate. We tried calling her but she said she needed county direction and that she was writing a report," he said.

Njoro sub-county deputy police commander, Mr Lawrence Nalo, said they received a report from the school that a student had died at the hospital. He said the reported indicated that Whitney fell sick on March 7 and was attended to at the dispensary, but that her situation worsened the next morning.

He further said they were told the girl remained in class while other students went for breakfast, so her schoolmates notified the principal. She was was examined by the school nurse, who advised that she be rushed to the hospital.

"It is unfortunate that we have lost a young soul.The matter is under investigation to establish what really happened. Other students are okay," said Mr Nalo