ARSON OR ACCIDENT?

Cases of elderly people dying in fires worry Murang'a police

In Summary

• The latest victim is 85-year-old Pauline Wanjiru, whose body was found burnt in her house.

• Three such cases have been reported in the last three months in the area.

 

The remains of a house belonging to 85-year-old Pauline Wanjiru who died in a house fire in Kaharati, Maragua, Murang'a county
CONCERN: The remains of a house belonging to 85-year-old Pauline Wanjiru who died in a house fire in Kaharati, Maragua, Murang'a county
Image: /Alice Waithera
The remains of a house belonging to 85-year-old Pauline Wanjiru who died in a fire in Kaharati, Maragua, Murang'a county
CONCERN: The remains of a house belonging to 85-year-old Pauline Wanjiru who died in a fire in Kaharati, Maragua, Murang'a county
Image: /Alice Waithera

Police in Murang’a county have raised concerns over the increasing number of elderly people dying in mysterious fires.

Maragua subcounty police commander Dorothy Gaiteng’a said three such incidences have been reported in the last three months.

In all the cases, Gaiteng’a said, elderly people’s bodies were found in the debris left behind after fire razed down their homes.

She said the trends point to unsolved domestic wrangles, especially the thorny land succession issue.

On Tuesday, the body of Pauline Wanjiru, 85, was found after her burnt house in Kaharati, Maragua.

Photographer Edward Muiruri said he was going about his business when he saw the burnt house.

Muiruri said the woman's body was burnt beyond recognition. A goat also died and her cows suffered serious burns.

Police officers from Saba Saba police station arrived at the scene before their counterparts from the Scene of Crime department came from Makuyu police station.

About six metres from where Wanjiru's body lay was a hole suspected to have been dug by the people who set the house on fire.

“We are suspecting that she may have been killed and the perpetrators may have considered burying her behind her house before they decided to burn her body together with her house,” Muiruri said.

Nick Maina, a nephew to the deceased, said his aunt was very strong despite her age and could till her farm and feed her livestock.

Maina said the hole dug near the burnt house is an indication that the incident could have been a case of arson.

The deceased did not have children of her own, he said, so she did what many elderly women in the community do in her situation and got a young woman for companionship.

The younger woman bore children but died when they were young, leaving the elderly to bring them all by herself.

“We want the police to conduct thorough investigations to establish whether there was foul play,” he said.