PROHIBITED

Kakamega blocks burials within municipality

Area is zoned as a residential area and not gazetted as a public cemetery.

In Summary

• The county does not have a public cemetery in Kakamega municipality after the one that existed was filled up and decommissioned in early 2000.

• The site was dished out to former councillors and other developers who have since turned in into a settlement slum.

A grave digger at Lang'ata Cemetery
A grave digger at Lang'ata Cemetery
Image: FILE

The Kakamega government has blocked freehold landholders from burying their loved ones within the municipality.

The move has attracted severe criticism from local leaders who have accused the county administration of interfering with the burial rights of residents.

The gazetted Kakamega municipality covers 49 square kilometres. The county government has however mapped out areas to be brought into the municipality and expand it to 186 square kilometres.

On Tuesday, town manager Violet Ofisi stopped the burial of Benson Ondenyi in Kefinco area, saying the area is zoned as a residential area and not gazetted as a public cemetery.

She said burial was prohibited within the municipality as per the approved Kakamega Integrated Strategic Urban Development Plan. The family went ahead to bury him at the site.

"You are hereby directed to stop burying the deceased and seek a suitable alternative site. Take note that contravention of the above laws and regulations is likely to lead to legal action," he said.

She cited Section 144 of the Public Health Act Cap 242. 

Last week, Lands and Housing executive Robert Makhanu held a meeting with community administrators and asked them to sensitise the public within the municipality to avoid future exhumation of bodies of relatives.  

But Lurambi MP Titus Khamala, whose constituency hosts the municipality, laughed off the directive by the county government, terming it 'a big joke'.

"I'm shocked that a government can stop families from burying their relatives on their ancestral land that is freehold. This is draconian and unacceptable," he said.  

He said Shikhambi, Kenfinco, Mahiakalo, Marrum, Koromatangi, Sichirai were freehold land and there is no law to bar anyone from burying their relatives there.

He said the restrictions on burials can only apply in Milimani, Otiende, Amalemba Scheme and Nabongo schemes because they were classified as leasehold land.

The county does not have a public cemetery in Kakamega municipality after the one that existed was filled up and decommissioned in early 2000. 

The site was dished out to former councillors and other developers who have since turned it into a settlement slum.

Malava MP Maluku Injendi said the county government's focus should be to improve health facilities and not harass people who want to bury their dead.

"We still have land and people should be allowed to bury their loved ones on the land they own. The county should tell us what problems it is experiencing with burials."