Shock: County staff dig up coffin, strip body of uniform

The uniform stripped from the body of a youth service employee hangs from a tree in a homestead in Eburinde village, Butere, yesterday.

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A family in Butere was left in shock Monday after the body of a relative was forcibly exhumed by county officials.

Martin Shikuku Alukoye had been employed in the newly-formed Kakamega County Youth Service when he fell into River Eburinde on August 7 and drowned.

Alukoye’s kin said that he was epileptic and they suspected he had suffered a seizure.

His body was collected on Saturday from St Mary’s Hospital mortuary for burial at Eburinde village. The family, in consultation with the elders, decided to bury him on Sunday night.

The body was fully dressed in a green uniform, boots, service cap, whistle and a lanyard-attire he used to wear daily to work.

But on Monday, Ituti community county administrators visited the homestead and demanded the uniform issued to Alukoye when he joined the service one month ago.

The family told the county officials they had buried Alukoye in his work clothes. To their dismay, youth service officers were instructed to exhume the body and retrieve the uniform.

No authority

The family’s attempts to reach an agreement with the officers proved futile. This was despite their argument that the officers did not have authority to carry out the exhumation.

Reduced to helpless by-standers, Alukoye’s relatives watched as his coffin was dug out of the grave and the body stripped from head to toe.

When The Standard visited the home yesterday, the uniform and boots were still hanging from a tree in the compound awaiting collection.

The family said they had fully involved Alukoye’s superiors in the burial arrangements, adding that the officers’ actions violated the community’s laws and customs.

The dug up grave.

Francis Mutamba, Alukoye’s uncle, said some of the officers who exhumed the body were present during the burial and they had not asked for the uniform.

“We decided to bury our son at night as is dictated by culture when a person dies by drowning. This morning (Monday) we were surprised when the county demanded we give them the cap, whistle and lanyard, which led to them exhuming the body,” Mr Mutamba said.

Ituti assistant chief Daniel Namai condemned the actions of the county officials.

“What happened today is illegal as the law dictates that when a body is buried, an individual who has a complaint or protest should first seek court orders for the body to be exhumed,” said Mr Namai.

Elders later met and discussed the incident. They issued edicts to be observed by those who participated in the exhumation.

“We will slaughter a cow to cleanse those who exhumed the body. We will also give another cow to the Alukoye’s uncles,” said Habil Nanjendo.

The body was dressed in a fresh set of clothes and reburied on Monday evening.


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