A family from Bungoma County is now demanding answers from the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) after it admitted that it buried their kin in an undisclosed mass grave without their consent.
Sabenzia Killong’s relatives last week discovered that she had been buried at the Lang'ata Cemetery. This followed months of desperately searching for her.
In a statement on Sunday, KNH admitted that Ms Killong was indeed admitted to the hospital where she died. Initially, the national referral facility had denied that the woman had been admitted there.
“We, the Killong family have received a media response from the Kenyatta National Hospital concerning the sickness, death and burial of our late daughter/sister Sabenzia Chepkesis Killong, commonly known as Spe, Sape, or Spencier, with shock and disbelief,” said Brian Killong.
According to Brian, the family expected a remorseful response from KNH addressed to the family in recognition of the harrowing experience and trauma that they have subjected them to.
The family said that their kin, who was a hawker in the city, stopped communicating with them in December just before Christmas, and in the last four months, they have been looking for her in hospitals — including KNH — and mortuaries.
“We visited Kenyatta several times looking for her both manually and in their records and they told us that they did not admit anyone by that description,” her family said.
This would later change after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), who were investigating the matter, traced her phone to the hospital.
The family says that the DCI wrote to KNH inquiring for information on her whereabouts as that was the last place that her mobile phone pinged.
They added that detectives told them that she had been admitted to the hospital under unclear circumstances.
Under a different name
On Sunday, Dr Evans Kamuri, the KNH CEO, said that Ms Killong was admitted there but under a different name.
“We would like to clarify that the deceased was admitted [to] the hospital under Sabenzia Kilong and not Spencier Kilong.”
The hospital added that the patient received treatment and care in their ward until December 28 when she died.
“Despite our best efforts, we could not trace Sabenzia’s next of kin at the time of admission and throughout her treatment,” he added.
They said that they followed the Ministry of Health guidelines under the Public Health Act Cap 242 of the Laws of Kenya. The law recommends that a body should be removed from the mortuary within two weeks and thereafter disposed off.
Prior to that, a 21-day gazette notice should have been done for publication in the dailies with the names of the bodies for ease of identification.
“The Public Health Act Cap 242 allows hospitals to dispose unclaimed bodies after 10 days. However, KNH extends the waiting period by 11 days making it a total of 21 days,” the statement added.
It added that the body stayed unclaimed at the mortuary for four months and was released for burial on April 27, 2021.
“We understand the immense loss and emotional toll the death of a loved one causes, and we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Sebenzia Kollong.
“While we remain open and invite any further information, at present all indications are that the hospital followed all due procedure in admission, hospital care, farewell admission and finally burial of this patient.”
KNH concluded by saying that it will continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities on the matter.