A family in Eburinde village, Butere Sub-County in Kakamega in Kenya was thrown into shock and grief after county officials forced the exhumation of the body of an employee who had been buried in service uniform.
Mr Martin Shikuku Alukoye, 31, who worked with the Kakamega County Youth Service, drowned in River Eburinde on August 7 and was buried on the night of August 11 in line with Luhya customs.
He was reported to be epileptic and drowned after he collapsed in the fast running waters while crossing the river.
BURIED IN UNIFORM
He was buried fully dressed in the green coloured county youth service uniform including boots, service cap and a lanyard.
On August 12, Ituti community county administrator, accompanied by other administrators, visited the home in a bid to take back the service attire that was allocated to the dead officer.
But they were informed that the county employee had been buried clad in the uniform.
It was then that the county officials demanded that the body be exhumed to retrieve the uniform.
Pleas by the family resisting the move fell on deaf ears.
NO COURT ORDER
The county officials, without any court order, forcibly exhumed the body.
The helpless family watched in disbelief as the coffin was brought out of the grave, the body removed and stripped off the county uniform.
“The officers went against the laws of the land and the laws of our forefathers as they dismantled the coffin to reclaim the uniform. We had fully involved the county government in the burial arrangements and they never resisted our proposal to bury our son in his work regalia,” said Mr Francis Mutamba, an uncle of the dead man.
Mr Mutamba said a section of the county officers were present during the burial but did not advise the family about burying their departed colleague in the service uniform.
Ituti Sub-Location Assistant chief Daniel Namayi condemned the step taken by the county officers and threatened to lead the family in taking legal action against them.
“Once a body has been buried, it requires anyone with a complaint to get a court order in order to exhume it. The county administrators have gone against the law in recovering their clothing,” said Mr Namayi.
According to Mr Namayi, police officers who die while in service are buried in full uniform and this should not be different for officers serving in counties.
Elders of the Abang’onya clan condemned the decision taken by the county administrators.
“We had decided to bury our son at night in line with culture which dictates that a person who died by drowning should not be buried while the sun is shining. But the county officers have surprised us when they decided to exhume the body to recover their regalia. It is something new to us and elders have to consult widely on the next course of action,” said Mr Mutamba.
According to the clan’s culture, those who participated in the exhumation process which is seen as a taboo, ought to be cleansed and a cow or goat slaughtered.
The body was reburied on Monday evening after the elders conducted rituals to cleanse the family.