Estranged dad wants to see his kids ‘dead or alive’ after Gikomba fire

July 2, 2018 2:10 pm
Isaiah Esabia who turned up at the mortuary to see his children ‘dead or alive’. Photo/MUTHONI NJUKI.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – A man, who separated with his wife 3 years ago, turned up at the Chiromo Mortuary on Monday, saying he wanted to know the fate of his children after the fire tragedy that flattened Gikomba—the city’s largest open-air market last week.

“I just want to know the fate of my children. I want to see them dead or alive,” said 37-year-old Isaiah Esabia, outside the mortuary, where families of the fire tragedy victims turned up to provide samples for a DNA exercise to help identify the charred remains of some of the 17 bodies.

A mortuary attendant who saw the bodies said some were burnt beyond recognition, while others are identifiable.

Esabia said he last saw his children in December 2017. Photo/MUTHONI NJUKI.

Esabia said he learnt of the tragedy from the media when he saw his former wife wailing on TV after failing to locate the children, and got concerned of their fate because he was no longer in touch with the woman he called his former wife whom he identified as Grace Kavekie.

“I want to see them (children) dead or alive,” he said, often moving from one corner to the other while on phone.

Dressed in a torn faded blue pair of jeans, checked white shirt and an oversize red pullover, the man appeared anxious., and kept saying “I just want to see my children dead or alive and if allowed I will bury them in Vihiga.”

Traders at the market have suffered losses for the second time since October last year. Photo/MOSES MUOKI.

“I saw their mother on TV and she said she has lost all her three children. I was shocked,” Esabia said, often posing to stare at the mortuary entrance.

He claimed the children’s mother forcefully separated them from him and did not know their whereabouts.
Esabia said he last saw his 14-year-old daughter last year in December.

“Their mother came for her when I was away and went with her,” he said, “I consoled myself and hoped they will return some day.”

Frustrated after visiting Kenyatta National Hospital where some of the victims were admitted, Esabia said he decided to visit the mortuary because “Their mother is not giving me sufficient information. I am not sure whether they all died or not.”

Capital FM News has not established the whereabouts of the children, as their mother was yet to arrive at the mortuary.

A distraught relative assisted by Kenya Red Cross volunteers. Several family members turned up for the identification exercise. Photo/MUTHONI NJUKI.

The head of the Human Anatomy at the mortuary, Prof Peter Gichangi said DNA exercise will only be conducted on bodies claimed by more than one family.

“I urge affected families to avail themselves for this crucial exercise,” he pleaded, as more relatives streamed in, most too distraught to grant interviews.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the inferno which some legislators said may be a case of arson, due to rivalries among traders.

George Kinoti, who heads the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), told Capital FM News of his resolve to “unravel the mystery behind the perennial fires at the market.”

“We are investigating the matter and the truth will be known soon, it is just a matter of time,” he said.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at KNH where he visited victims. More than 70 people were injured in the inferno. Photo/GOVERNOR’S PRESS SERVICE.

Sonko has pleaded for patience as investigations get underway and has pledged help to the affected traders some of who were barred Sunday from reconstructing their stalls.


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