- It was raining, so Mwenda pulled his wife's casket under a lorry to protect her.
- He was forced to bury his wife alone after police blocked his family members.
A miraa van driver was intercepted by police at Keeria, Meru, and forced to spend the night with the body of his wife he was ferrying home from Malindi last week.
Charles Mwenda, 32, said police officers distressed him as he took his wife's body for burial at Nairiri village in Tigania West.
The woman died after a long battle with abdominal cancer. She left a seven-month-old baby and another child aged six.
“My wife had been sick for a long time and her condition worsened in December last year. I took her to Kenyatta National Hospital and later was told to go home. I faced several challenges including lack of funds for chemotherapy and accommodation," he said.
Mwenda travelled on Wednesday, May 27, from Malindi together with friends and relatives to bury his wife. He worked transporting miraa from Mombasa to Malindi.
Mwenda narrated that he had tested negative for Covid-19 and had all travel permits from the relevant authorities.
But trouble started when he got to Keeria, the border of Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.
He was forced to bury his wife alone after police blocked his family members.
She died on May 24 and he was instructed to collect the body within the shortest time possible from the morgue.
He said he spent Sh150,000 from Malindi to Meru.
The Malindi Methodist bus he had hired had 52 seats. The travelers were 31. Everyone had a mask. He had a Covid-19 clearence letter. But police ignored all that.
"I have stayed for seven months in hospital with my wife. It will take more time for me to recover and move on. I could have buried her in a cemetery but our culture does not allow. My children would have asked for their mother’s grave," he said.
"At 11pm on Thursday, May 28, we were at the final police barrier at the Meru-Tharaka Nithi border where we were stopped by police and forced out of the bus. What I saw there was inhuman. After a lengthy discussion, all my family and friends were forced back to Malindi. I was left alone with the casket, which was offloaded from the bus and put in a police car,” Mwenda said.
He said he was threatened he would be taken to a 14-day forced quarantine after the burial and so he obliged to travel alone.
“Even my mother and kids could not accompany me. I was later dropped at Kianjai police post at 2am. I was confused and didn't even know the way home. The body of my wife was offloaded from the police vehicle and put on the roadside. I pleaded with the police to get the body to my home, which is 5km from the police station but they refused,” he said.
He was forced to spend the night with the casket. "To make the matters worse, it was raining. I pulled the casket under a lorry, which was packed at the station.
"I didn't know what to do. It was the darkest day of my life. I was picked at 6am by a friend who ferried me and the casket home. I think I didn't deserve that,” Mwenda said.
Mwenda is on 14 days self-quarantine.
The incident has attracted mixed reactions on social media after he posted it.
Kenya Red Cross Central and Eastern region manager Gitonga Mugambi questioned why torture someone already in grief.
Karani Mutonga asked protested against the double standards.
“Didn’t we see the daughter of Tabitha Karanja and wife to Dr Gikonyo burials attended by over 100 people? Was this treatment to Mwenda necessary?” Karani posed.
County commissioner Allan Machari told the Star through SMS that he will institute investigations into the matter.
Edited by Henry Makori