Shock as DNA identifies senior KWS officer among River Yala victims

River Yala Bodies

Ndanu falls along River Yala where several bodies are reported to have been dumped by unknown people.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

The search for a Kenya Wildlife Service officer who had disappeared six months ago ended at the Yala mortuary in Siaya County yesterday when his body was positively identified after a DNA test.

The body had been retrieved from River Yala and this deepens the mystery over who’s reasonable for the killing and dumping of victims in the region.

The families of former KWS officer Francis Osore Oyaro and John Kiruki Karimi alias Kiruu were asked to go and collect the remains of their loved ones after their DNA samples matched two bodies.

Karimi hailed from Ngurumo village in Mathira went missing on November 15 last year as he was traveling to Nakuru from Umoja III in Nairobi. His sister, Janet, said his phone was switched off in Nakuru.

Francis Isaack Oyaro, who is a senior KWS officer based in Marsabit. He was abducted on August 28, 2021, in Naromoru.

Photo credit: Pool

“It has been five months of sleepless nights. May your killers never know peace,” she said on social media.

Osore went missing on August 28 last year as he was travelling from his work station in Marsabit to Nakuru. He had just been granted leave from the Marsabit National Park, where he was the assistant warden, and was scheduled to visit his family.

Workmates said the officer left Marsabit aboard a KWS van and alighted in Nanyuki, where he reportedly boarded a matatu to Nakuru. He was to use the Naromoru-Kanyagia route.

The matatu was, however, intercepted by two men in a black saloon car. They flaunted some identification cards and instructed the driver to show them Osore’s luggage.

River Yala Bodies

Jane Anyango Abong'o carries a picture of his son George Abong'o whose body was found in River Yala.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Some witnesses claim the KWS officer identified the men and asked them why they had been trailing him “yet I am with you”. He attempted to make a phone call but the phone was snatched from him and he was forced into the car. The matatu driver was instructed to drive on.

His disappearance was reported three days later at the Nakuru Police Station after he failed to arrive home. His relatives also reported about his disappearance to KWS, but the agency did not make the report public until the case was reported by the media, more than three weeks later.

River Yala

A section of River Yala in Siaya County where several bodies are reported to have been dumped by unknown people.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

During this time, five men also believed to have been kidnapped by the same gang within the same locality where Osore was, also disappeared. They are Gerald Guandaru, 45, Isaac Mwangi, 34, Samuel Ngacha, 34, Bernard Wanjohi, 40, and Wilson Mwangi, 26.

The five have never been found but Oyaro’s family has been informed that his body was among those retrieved from River Yala. His wife, Ms Veronica Osore, said the officer – formerly based in Marsabit – was identified through the matching of a DNA sample with one from the mother.

“We were informed today that we should go to Yala after he was positively identified,” she told the Nation.

His elder brother, Mr Charles Osore, said the family would be travelling to Yala for the report.

River Yala bodies

Villagers stare at an unidentified body that was discovered in River Yala, Siaya County on January 20, 2022.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

“They (police) told us that one of the bodies has a DNA that matches 98.9 per cent with our mother’s. They have asked us to go to Yala for the official report, then we work out how the remains of my brother will be buried. It is extremely shocking,” he said.

The identification of the two victims brings to nine the number of bodies retrieved from River Yala, whose identities are known. The others include George Abongo, Eric Omeno, Margaret Atieno, Titus Lisutha, Philip Chepkuony, Peter Mutuku and Erastus Ndirangu.

River Yala in Siaya

River Yala in Siaya County where bodies were found dumped.

Photo credit: Pool

This means that 15 bodies that were retrieved from the river before activists raised the alarm towards the end of January are yet to be identified. At the time, 24 bodies were at Yala mortuary, straining the facility that’s designed to only hold 16.

A Nation investigation a fortnight ago revealed that almost all of the men had a criminal past and were the victims of a brutal death squad with the resources to kill, transport and dump bodies continuously in one area as local police looked away.

The police have, however, denied accusations by human rights groups of being behind the killings. They have urged the public to give investigators time to find the killers.