What you need to know:
- He said that even those who die in major wars and civil strife have their remains interred in cemeteries.
- Dr Oduor said the burial did not conform to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
Siaya Senator James Orengo has instructed Nelson Havi and Company Advocates to take up “for necessary legal action” the matter of the “undignified” burial of former Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) employee James Oyugi Onyango who succumbed to Covid-19.
At the same time, Mr Orengo, who is also the Senate minority leader, Monday said that he will on Tuesday seek a statement from Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on the matter.
Mr Orengo wants CS Kagwe to explain the cause of death and the circumstances surrounding the burial. He will also seek an explanation on the role of both the national and county governments in the “awful, gruesome and despicable burial in the dead of the night”.
The Siaya senator termed Mr Onyango’s burial as “crude and macabre.”
“Human dignity does not end with death. In all cultures across the world the burial of the dead is a solemn event accompanied with elaborate rituals. We respect the dead and that is why we have graves, tombs, crypts, mausoleums and pyramids. Veneration of the dead is based on love, respect and dignity for the deceased,” said Mr Orengo.
He said that even those who die in major wars and civil strife have their remains interred in cemeteries.
“The crude and macabre burial in the dead of the night with little concern for the grieving family and the community has no place in a caring and decent society,” the senator said.
He went on, “We want everybody to stay healthy and safe but not to the extent of flouting or ignoring protocols laid down by government respecting the dignity of the dead, their cultural, religious traditions, customs and the need to offer comfort and solace to grieving families.”
He stated that if Mr Onyango’s death was caused by Covid-19, the conduct of the burial caused more harm than good and may have endangered other lives.
“Covid-19 pandemic is better fought without stigma. The coronavirus has invaded the corridors of power and royalty. Even the heights of the aristocracy and the celebrity world have not been spared by this invisible enemy and contagion,” Mr Orengo said.
In a video that is believed to have captured the hurried pre-dawn burial witnessed by close family members including his two wives, the medical personnel are seen offloading the body covered in white body bags into the grave.
The medical team are seen focused on lowering the body totally unmoved by the wailing mourners before the grave is quickly covered with soil.
Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor on Saturday night told Citizen TV that the actions of interment of the late Mr Onyango did not conform to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
“I don’t think it is what we meant when we came up with the guidelines which include burying the body within 24 to 48 hours and taking care of cultural and religious observations,” Dr Oduor said.
“We were clear that the body should have two body bags, with the external one decontaminated and should be put in a coffin and the family involved as much as possible,” he added.
Follow: The Covid-19 tracker