Relief for Trans Nzoia family as kin’s body arrives from Saudi Arabia

The casket bearing the body of Stella Nafula, 22, at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport parking lot on Monday April 11, 2022, before being transported to Kitale. Stella left Kenya on August 28, 2021 and died in Saudi Arabia on February 8, after five months in Saudi Arabia.

Photo credit: Photo | Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Stella, 22, who worked as an M-Pesa agent in Kitale had missed her flight on the day of her travel in August, 2021.
  • She died on February 8, five months after she left the country.
  • Her family wants a post-mortem to be conducted to establish the cause of her death.

When Stella Nafula left Kenya on August 28, 2021 for Saudi Arabia, after a friend linked her with a work opportunity, she had hoped to return home in 2023 at the expiry of her contract.

Ms Nafula, who was 22 and worked as an M-Pesa agent in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, had left her home on July 7 to prepare for her journey.

On travel day, she missed her flight because the plane was full. But she insisted on flying alongside her two friends on the next flight, despite reservations from her brothers, who advised not to go.

Return home

She was expected to return home in 2023 when her contract was to end. But as fate would have it, she would, like many others before her, return home in a casket.

She died on February 8 in Narjan, Saudi Arabia, where she worked as a domestic helper.

Her family in Kitale is relieved after her body was finally flown to Kenya on Monday, April 11.

Her elder brother Joseph Matara said her friend working in Qatar had linked her with a work opportunity in Saudi Arabia.

Health complications

All was well in her first three months. But she would soon start complaining about an ailment that affected her leg.

“She told me of the problem and I told her to report the issue to her employer,” he said.

The family said she did not receive medical treatment in time and was not even given time off to recuperate. The family said a medical report from Saketa Hospital in Saudi Arabia showed Ms Nafula succumbed to cardiopulmonary arrest.

"She went offline for some days but when she resurfaced she sent me a disturbing WhatsApp audio clip asking me to intervene and ask the Kenyan government to help her come back home," Mr Matara said.

In October, her situation worsened but her Saudi employer told her to keep working.

Her last words

The family also claimed that at one point, Ms Nafula’s access to the internet was restricted by her employer and they had a hard time reaching her.

Her last words to her brother before she died were via a recorded WhatsApp message.

“Bro mimi kweli sioni kesho nikifika, nimekufa aki. Haina shida, nimeshukuru kwa yale mumenitendea” (Brother I don’t think I will make it to tomorrow, I am dead. But it is okay. Thank you for all you have done for me).

Cherang’any Nursing Home hospital where Stella Nafula’s body is lying. She died in Saudi Arabia in February after a five months stay in the foreign country. Her family wants a postmortem done to establish the cause of her death.

Photo credit: Photo | Courtesy

The family received her body at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Monday morning and took it to the Cherengany Nursing Home Hospital mortuary on Tuesday.

"We were notified by the cargo plane company that her body was being flown to Kenya on Sunday and that it would arrive on Monday. We travelled to Nairobi immediately that Sunday evening," Mr Matara told the Nation.


Her other brother Kennedy Matara explained the agony that the family has endured after losing their relative in a foreign country and trying to get her body brought back for burial.

The family had initially approached the agency that found the job for Ms Nafula, but it did not help, prompting them to reach out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"So many things that we had planned to do stopped after the news of our sister’s death. But as a family we have accepted her demise," he explained.


The family wants a post-mortem to be conducted to establish the cause of Ms Nafula’s death.

"We saw her body at the airport parking lot just to confirm that it was actually her. The body was in good shape as it had not decomposed, but we noticed a few things on her body suggesting physical harm," her brother said.

"There were scars on the left side of her chest, wrists and around her neck, suggesting she might have been tied with a rope. That's why we need a post-mortem done."

Ms Nafula will be buried at her family’s home in Misemwa, Kiminini sub-county, next week.