, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 24 – Eunice Khavetsa is oblivious to the stares she elicits as she stalks around the MP Shah Hospital red eyed and with a leso wrapped over her trouser.
Her main concern now is finding a way to get the father of her two children, Maurice Adembetsa, out of the hospital mortuary that she’s been informed cannot hold his body longer than the two days he’s already been there.
“I’m trying to organise for his transportation from here to Chiromo but I don’t have any money so I first have to get a hold of his employer and see if they will help me,” she tells Capital FM News.
Her husband’s former employer is the security firm that had been engaged to secure the Westgate mall and had succeeded to do so before Saturday when gun-toting terrorists went on the rampage.
“I was told that when the terrorists arrived they tried to force their way into the shopping mall and so his subordinates called him for help,” Khavetsa says relating what she’s heard of her husband’s final moments.
“But when the terrorists saw him make his way to their vehicles they got out and started shooting. He was a supervisor so he didn’t wear a uniform but I think they saw his radio,” she continues before breaking down.
Seeing his daughter-in-law unable to continue, Jackton Ombesa takes over and explains that his son took at least seven bullets to the body.
“There were four bullet wounds on his chest, one through his throat, another one to the leg and one even took his ear off,” the 70-year-old small-scale farmer narrates as he uses a dirt-stained index finger to show exactly where the bullets pierced.
He didn’t shed a single tear when he went in to identify his son’s body, his brother Arthur Chanzu tells us, but his eyes have that shimmer that indicates the tears are not far below the surface.
“You should have heard the shrieks that came from his homestead when they heard the news. At first I thought the cries were coming from a burial ceremony nearby but on listening closely I realised they were coming from across the way – my brother’s home,” he recalls.
Having recovered her composure, Khavetsa recounts how she came to hear of her husband’s passing, “I hadn’t seen him that morning because I’m part of the cleaning crew at the NSSF offices but when I got home at midday my neighbour told me that there was trouble at Westgate.”
Khavetsa lives in Kawangware so it didn’t take her long to get within the mall’s vicinity but she was unable to get past the security agents who had cordoned off the mall.
“So I tried to call but it wasn’t until 11pm when my brother-in-law informed me that my Maurice was among the first that had been shot and killed and that’s how I learnt that my nine and six-year-old children would grow up without their father,” the 27-year-old narrates as she chokes on a sob.
Fortunately for Khavetsa, she’s spoilt for shoulders to cry on as her sisters, neighbours and in-laws surround her but Ombesa is cognisant that the responsibility for providing for his grandchildren now lies on his shoulders as patriarch.
“They have no idea what they took from us. He was my eldest son. He’s the one we’d go to for help when we were in a fix. And while I knew there was always a chance he’d die in the line of duty, I always thought he’d go down fighting; not the victim of cowards who would gun-down an unarmed man,” Ombesa explains as the tears threaten to break free.
And Anton couldn’t agree more that his friend’s death was a cruel twist of fate, “it was a temporary assignment. He had only been there five days and only had a week to go. He was even meant to take Sunday off.”
Like many others, Adembetsa was unfortunately at the right place at the wrong time but Ombesa refuses to believe that his son’s death was an inevitability, “there are no secrets between two people. How then can 10 to 15 people plan such a headline-grabbing attack and not raise some red flags?”
But right now, Khavetsa has no more time for questions. She like many other families has to lay her loved one to rest before she can start to make sense of the needless loss of her provider, her protector, her love and her wardrobe.