PUSH AND PULL

Families of Ethiopian Airlines plane crash victim feuds over pay

Victims’ families are set to receive between Sh17 million and Sh25 million

In Summary

• Family of Juliah Mwashi's husband says she was legally married to him and, therefore, deserves to get the pay.

• The two families held parallel memorial services in her honour.

Juliah Mwashi's husband (with portrait) with his family and friends during her memorial service in Ndakaini, Gatanga, Murang'a county.
Juliah Mwashi's husband (with portrait) with his family and friends during her memorial service in Ndakaini, Gatanga, Murang'a county.
Image: Alice Waithera

Two families have differed over who should receive compensation for a relative killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10.

Both Juliah Mwashi's maternal family and that of her widower, Henry Macharia, want the money. 

Some  157 people perished in the crash. Victims’ families are set to receive between Sh17 million and Sh25 million, depending on the victim's age, profession and position in society in accordance with the Monreal Convention standards.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week asked all the victims’ families to acquire a Grant of Representation from court to receive compensation.

The legal document enables its bearer to administer the deceased’s property and will ensure only bona fide persons get the compensation, PS Macharia Kamau said.

Macharia’s family, which organised a memorial service in her honour last Friday, has said it is unfair for their in-laws from Kaimosi, Kakamega county, to make a claim on the compensation yet she was legally married.

Macharia, who lives in Ndakaini, Murang’a county, said he and Mwashi were married 22 years and had three children, one of whom died.

“I am asking the government to be vigilant during the compensation process to ensure there is no confusion,” Macharia said. He said the process is clouded and families do not know who to turn to for information on its progress.

Macharia said his family conducted the memorial service for Mwashi and the couple's late son to get closure. 

His uncle, Mukuna Ndeka, said it was unfortunate that their in-laws conducted a parallel memorial service in Kakamega.

Such confusion, he said, only serves to punish the couple's children as they will be torn between the families while they are still mourning their mother.

Ndeka said the children are in their father's custody.

“It is a taboo for family members to touch such money and that is why we want it given to the family so that the children can continue with their normal lives, even in absence of their mother,” he said.

Ndeka said their family conducted all the marriage rites according to Kikuyu traditions, and the two also had a church wedding.

He said Macharia has their marriage certificate as proof and he rightly deserves to get the money.

“We are asking the government to intervene and guide the process to ensure it is not marred by such incidences.  Things get complicated when money is involved,” Ndeka said.

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the airline is working with insurance companies to certify the identities of victims for compensation.