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In Siaya, the body of 59-year-old James Oyugi who succumbed to COVID-19 was buried at night, with his body covered in a body bag and tossed in a shallow grave/FILE

Capital Health

COVID-19 burial in Siaya that sparked outrage

SIAYA, Kenya Apr 13 – A burial in Siaya for a COVID-19 victim has sparked public outcry, with locals and Kenyans across the country accusing the authorities of fuelling stigma.

The man, a local from Ukwala, identified as James Oyugi, 59 years is said to have succumbed at a local hospital and his body taken to his rural home for burial by public health officials.

Police said he had an accident on April 6, and was taken to hospital where he is said to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Police officers who responded to the accident scene and a mechanic who had repaired his vehicle are among people in quarantine, along with his family members.

His body was covered in a white body bag without a coffin and was transported home in a pick-up truck with two public health officials who were dressed in white protective clothes.

A video and photos circulated Sunday night showed the pick up arriving at the family home, and parked next to a shallow grave where the body was tossed as family members wailed.

On Monday, Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said he had appointed a 3-member team to investigate the ‘inhumane’ burial.

Rasanga said the team will be headed by the County Police Commander Francis Kooli and CECM Governance Dismas Wakla.

He said he is keen to establish who issued the directives that the deceased be interred inhumanly in a haste, against the family wishes.

Rasanga say the decision was arrived at without consulting his committee and they were only informed of the matter at 4pm on Sunday.

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He has promised to take stern disciplinary action against those involved and warned officials in the Public Health Department to stop operating without consulting higher authorities.
He has also promised to assist the family to perform final rites once they are out of quarantine.

The Law Society Of Kenya, West Kenya Branch has condemned the manner in which the body was buried.

In a statement, Chairperson Samuel Onyango said Oyugi was not buried according to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.

The society has demanded an apology from the Ministry Of Health and the County Government of Siaya saying, the family is traumatized after seeing how their kin was buried in a shallow grave and without their involvement.


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