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Families Collect Bodies Of Protesters At Nairobi Morgue

IN the wake of ongoing protests against proposed tax increases, families in Kenya are visiting morgues to collect the bodies of loved ones killed during last week’s demonstrations. The protests, which have turned violent, highlight deep-seated frustrations with the government.

Hussein Khaled, CEO of Vocal Africa, a community activist organisation, was at Nairobi’s City Mortuary assisting grieving families and ensuring that autopsies were conducted to document the causes of death. ‘We are here to support the families, particularly those shot by police officers. We make sure we have the necessary documentation to seek justice,’ Khaled told VOA.

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Conflicting reports on the death toll have emerged. President William Ruto reported 19 fatalities, while the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights indicated that 24 people have died since the protests began two weeks ago.

Among the victims was 20-year-old Kennedy Mwangi Njeru. His parents, Joseph Mwangi Njeru and Mary Muthoni, were at the morgue to retrieve his body. Joseph, who described Kennedy as his firstborn and best friend, said his son was shot in the head and back. ‘I feel very bad,’ Mary lamented. ‘My son is gone, and I will never see him again.’

Kennedy’s aunt, Esther, expressed the family’s financial strain. ‘We are ready to bury him on Thursday, but we don’t have money to cover the mortuary fees and transport to Kirinyaga,’ she said.

Phoebe Akumu Maina, who lost her 17-year-old son Kevin Odhiambo Maina, also faces financial difficulties. ‘I have nothing. I’m just a mother trying to find a way to bury my son,’ she told VOA.

To support these families, activist Hanifa Adan and others have set up a fundraising account through M-Changa, a mobile contribution platform. ‘Our target was 10 million Kenyan shillings [about $78,000], but we collected 24 million in just 10 hours,’ Adan said. The funds, equivalent to about $193,000, will help cover hospital bills and burial expenses.

In response to the crisis, President Ruto has pledged a thorough investigation into the deaths. He has withdrawn the controversial tax bill and proposed a multi-sectoral forum to address issues such as debt, taxation, unemployment, and corruption. Despite these measures, some protesters continue to call for his resignation, demanding accountability and substantial reforms.

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