Kenya: Wairimu Blows Last Kiss to Cohen in Emotional Jewish Send-Off

Sarah Wairimu Cohen, widow of the late Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen, lay flowers at her late husband's grave on September 24, 2019 at the Jewish Cemetery in Nairobi.
24 September 2019

Nairobi — "One thing Tob (Cohen) taught me, is never to take no for an answer," those were the words of Sarah Wairimu, the widow of slain Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen, who was buried on Tuesday evening.

Wairimu, who stands accused for his murder, and is remanded pending plea-taking, made brief remarks during Cohen's emotional send-off at the Jewish Community Cemetery in Nairobi where he was laid to rest in a ceremony attended by prominent personalities--drawn from his golf club of buddies.

Wairimu, who was escorted from remand prison by five warders, did not mince her words during the slightly over one-minute speech; "Even in this, I am going to fight. And even as we stand here, many of you, the ones who are responsible for Tob's death in sheepskin, your days are also numbered."

Wairimu, who all along remained under the watchful eyes of prison officers, promised "to fight" to ensure those responsible for her husband's death are brought to book.

She mumbled these words in the face of a charge sheet presented in court two weeks ago, when a judge ordered her remanded until she undergoes a mental examination before she can take plea.

She denies killing Cohen whose body was discovered in an underground water tank in their family home in the leafy Kitisuru home in Nairobi, after missing for over two months.

Donning a black pair of trousers with a matching top with black and white flowers, complete with dark sunglasses--Wairimu cut a figure of an innocent woman as she stared into space, occasionally removing her dark glasses.

Even as ten priests conducted the burial ceremony in line with Jewish traditions, focus was on Wairimu who was allowed to shovel soil into Cohen's grave during the brief ceremony.

At one point, she appeared overwhelmed with emotions after laying flowers at the grave where she blew a goodbye kiss before breaking into tears, as prison warders swiftly rushed her to a waiting vehicle, ready to return to Langata women's prison.

She was at one point seen reaching out for a white handkerchief on her right-side pocket, to wipe tears as she boarded a prison van.

The ceremony, that was ordered by a court to be a private affair, turned out to be public and was so charged towards the end when dozens of onlookers from the nearby garages started shouting Wairimu's name.

"Wairimu! Wairimu," the onlookers shouted as armed prison officers escorted her out amid tight security by police officers deployed there.

The ceremony was conducted in Hebrew by ten priests, as his body was lowered into the grave on a spot marked 184.

And in line with the Jewish tradition, there was no viewing of his body in the brief ceremony that started with prayers followed by his eulogy.

Just before his body was taken to the graveside, there was chanting of prayers in Hebrew by the priests.

Present at the funeral was Cohen's brother Bernard and other friends and close family members as well as lawyers from both sides-led by Philip Murgor for the widow and Cliff Ombeta who was retained by the Dutch family.

Cohen's burial was scheduled for Monday but was pushed to Tuesday due to unavailability of the 10 priests required to conduct the ceremony in line with the Jewish traditions and his priestly background. Only 8 priests were available on Monday.

Among his friends present at the male-dominated funeral was President Uhuru Kenyatta's uncle Ngengi Muigai, his wife, Rtd. Captain Kungu Muigai and former Gatundu North Member of Parliament Patrick Muiruri.

Former Uchumi Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ciano was also present. "I have paid my last respect to my good friend," he told journalists camping outside the cemetery.

Also present was former National Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki, who is a Chief Executive Committee member in Nyeri County among other buddies Cohen played golf with- mostly from the Muthaiga Golf Club.

Cohen is a former Chief Executive Officer of Dutch conglomerate Philips East Africa who has lived in Kenya for many years and was lately known for organizing golf tournaments.

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