- Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna says Kenyans wrong to interpret the sum as compensation
- Family spokesperson Luka Mbati says money is gesture of condoling the family
Kenya Ferry Services on Tuesday issued two cheques worth Sh100,000 each to widower John Wambua and the late Mariam Kighenda’s father, Peter Mwaghogho Mwanyasi.
The token elicited sharp reactions from Kenyans who took to social media to criticise the parastatal for allegedly demeaning the lives of Kighenda, 35, and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, four.
The two died on September 29 when their car slipped off MV Harambee ferry while mid-stream and into the Indian Ocean.
Their bodies were retrieved last Friday, 12 days later.
However, the government and the family differed in their explanations for the Sh200,000 donation.
Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said Kenyans were wrong to interpret the sum as compensation.
“They [cheques] are authentic, but not as a form of compensation. This is to facilitate burial arrangements,” Oguna told the Star.
Family spokesperson Luka Mbati said the money was a way to condole the family.
“It is just a token to say sorry,” he said.
On social media, Kenyans expressed their fury.
The Star readers, who posted expressions of their dismay, questioned the government’s explanation.
“If it was towards the burial arrangements, why were they in two cheques instead of one?” Joseph Silhuli asked.
“The government should not take us for fools,” he said.
Kelvin Inanga said on Facebook the KFS has no regard for human life.
“Sad that Kenya Ferry's board sat down and saw it worthy to compensate the family of the late Mariam Kighenda and Amanda Mutheu Sh200,000 following the loss of their loved ones.
“Sad how KFS takes lives of passengers who use the ferry so lightly and casually. No wonder they don't care about repairing the non-functional ramps (prows),” Inanga said.
Boyi Madogo sarcastically wrote: “Hahaha. KFS our pride. They take good care of us.”
On Tuesday, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka called the family from Malaysia to offer his condolences.
He told the family he would attend the burial in Kilomi constituency, Makueni county.
The family has set the burial for Saturday.
On Wednesday, government pathologist Johansen Oduor will fly down to Mombasa to perform an autopsy on the two bodies at 2pm at the Jocham Hospital.
It is not clear why the autopsy will be done at a private hospital and not a government one.
Usually, police case autopsies are conducted at the Coast General Hospital.
The family received a Sh700,000 cheque from Mayfair Insurance Company as compensation on Monday.
Mombasa branch manager Priya Shah issued the cheque to Wambua at their Tudor home.
Wambua had acquired a comprehensive insurance cover in December last year.
The cover expires in December.