15 September 2018

Kenya: Sharon's Unborn Baby's Burial Engulfed in Confusion and Tears

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Confusion and tears marked the burial of Sharon Otieno's foetus on Friday after Med25 International-Kenya Hospital Mortuary initially declined to release the body due to lack of a burial permit.

The hitch delayed the burial for over six hours, past the noon deadline which had been set by the family in line with Luo traditions.

Elders had said customs dictate that such an infant is buried before 'the sun changes direction to the West'.

But finally, the baby's remains were lowered in a four-feet grave some minutes past 5pm in a low-key, brief ceremony attended by family members and neighbours. No politician attended the funeral.

A small brown casket carried the remains. The foetus was buried in Sharon grandfather's homestead in accordance with the community's norms.

BLAME GAME

Earlier, family, friends and mourners traded blame game on why the burial permit was missing despite the funeral having been set well in advance.

They were worried that the unforeseen circumstance could force them to postpone the ceremony yet a grave had already been dug.

At the Med25 International-Kenya Hospital Mortuary in Mbita, Sharon's father, Mr Douglas Otieno, caused drama as he demanded to be given the remains of his grandchild without the burial permit, prompting mortuary attendants to call in the police to restore order.

He calmed down after the officers made him understand that he just had to comply with the hospital's orders.

"Tell me, what is wrong that they are not giving us the body?" he said in desperation.

INFANT'S BODY

His wife Melida Auma was drowned in grief as she made frantic calls to have the infant's body released.

"I am tired. Give me my grandchild. Why are you adding us more trouble knowing too well what hell we have been through?" she asked the privately-owned mortuary finance manager, Mr Collins Ochieng.

But Mr Ochieng said he could not release the body without the required document.

"This is a sensitive case, the law must be adhered to," said Mr Ochieng.

A doctor at Rachuonyo Level 4 Hospital where the slain university student's body was first taken after being discovered in a thicket and who also witnessed the autopsy alongside others sent a filled form via WhatsApp, which authorised the infant's body to be released.

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