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Tob Cohen finally buried, stage now set for long murder trial

Pallbearers carry the casket containing Cohen’s remains during the burial at the Jewish cemetery in Nairobi on Tuesday, September 24/ CFM – Sam Wanjohi

NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 24 – Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen was buried on Wednesday evening, at the Jewish cemetery, Nairobi in a closed family and friends only ceremony that was conducted in Hebrew.

His widow Sarah Wairimu, who is the main suspect in his murder was among those who attended the ceremony after the court granted her permission.

She donned a black pair of trousers with a matching top with black and white flowers, complete with dark sunglasses.

Guarded by five male and female prison warders, Sarah 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.

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 Wairimu’s name 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.

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

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 10 priests required to conduct the ceremony in line with the Jewish traditions and his 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.

It is a journey that started on September 13, when Cohen’s body was found dumped in an underground water tank at his Kitusuru home, after missing for 55 days.

His widow Wairimu has spent nearly a month in custody and is set to plead to a murder charge on Thursday.

“Cohen has been given a dignified send-off. We now move to court,” Lawyer Ombeta told journalists after the burial ceremony.

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Murgor said the widow was “happy to have participated in the burial” where she also gave a brief farewell speech to her husband.

According to those who attended, “she asked God to punish those who killer her husband.” The two were married for more than two decades.

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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