Kenya: Body of Missing Human Rights Defender Caroline Mwatha Found at City Mortuary

Friends wait to identify the body of Dandora activist Caroline Mwatha at city mortuary on February 12, 2019.
12 February 2019

A Kenyan human rights activist who went missing a week ago was on Tuesday found dead at City Mortuary.

The family of Caroline Mwatha confirmed Tuesday evening after identifying her body at the morgue where they refuted police reports that the activist died while illegally procuring an abortion.

Her body had been booked in the private death cases records under the name Carol Mbeki, with the cause of death indicated as diarrhea and the referring police post as Kenyatta Police Post.

Mwatha's mother Anna Kathathi questioned why their searches at the same morgue on Friday and Saturday did not reveal that her body was at the mortuary.

"My daughter has been killed, isn't this the same place we came searching for her on Friday and Saturday we were at Kenyatta as well, why was she not here or at the hospital? Everyone who is involved in my daughter's death will answer before God," she said.

In a statement, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said investigations had revealed that Caroline was communicating with one Alexander Gitau Gikonya, who works in Isiolo County.

"Further exploitation revealed communications relating to an intended abortion of a five month old pregnancy between the said Caroline and Alexander.

On 6th February 2019, Caroline went to a clinic known as New Njiru Community Centre within Dandora Phase 1. It is believed an abortion procedure was procured by the owner of the clinic namely Betty Akinyi Nyanya alia Betty Ramoya and one purported 'Dr' Mike Onchiri alias Dr Mike. Investigators believe that Caroline died in the clinic and the body was transferred to the Nairobi City Mortuary on 7th February 2019 at 4:42am," the statement read.

Kinoti added that six people, including the two believed to have procured the abortion, have been arrested alongside Alexander, Betty Ramoya's son, Stephen Maina and an Uber driver and one Georgia Achieng Tabitha.

The father Stanlaus Mbai accused police of spreading false reports to divert the public from the alleged murder of his daughter, which he blamed on her line of work in the community.

"If this is what will be happening to every activist I advise you all to quit working as my daughter was defending the rights of Dandora people only to end up dead. How comes I was texted by a number telling me to come pick my daughter at the morgue? This was well planned and executed, we need investigations into this matter," he said.

The father said he suspected foul play in his daughter's death as the records at city mortuary have questionable alterations given his sons had visited the same morgue on Friday and Saturday.

"We have been told not to speak to the media in the name of slowing investigations. We have been taken round by the police today they even showed us a different body all this to prepare us and later tell us to come and identify the body at city mortuary," he added.

Haki Afrika's Hussein Khalid said the information from the police and mortuary records was suspicious.

"The information we got from the mortuary is very suspicious so we are very concerned. We are treating this matter with a lot of suspicion and will have a sit down to agree on way forward and will issue a comprehensive statement tomorrow (Wednesday). She has marks on the neck and abdomen, there is also a deep cut on the leg which mortuary attendants are saying was made to apply embalming fluids. There are definitely tell-tell signs on the body but we are yet to get a conclusive report," he said.

Mwatha was last seen at her home in Dandora on Wednesday last week and her family reported her missing to police on Friday.

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