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KWS forces family of wildlife victim into penury

Winnie Sonke, whose father William Sonke Marona was killed by an elephant in Masimba last year, has dropped out of University of Nairobi because of failure to raise fees. We found her at her home in Masimba.

DESTITUTION: While KWS needed to get the DNA report for purposes of processing compensation for the deceased’s family, the process has taken unnecessarily long

The number of elephants has increased in Masimba and is threatening humans

BY LINET MINAYO

A Masimba family in Kajiado County is still waiting for DNA results of their dead, seven months after he was killed by an elephant.

Residents of Losukoroi village stumbled upon Pelo Muterian’s head on June 4 last year after he was reported missing on May 24.

Muterian’s other body parts are believed to have been mauled by hyenas, and Kenya Wildlife Service officials then demanded a DNA report for identification purposes.

KWS officials took away a tooth from the partly-eaten head and saliva from his mother to a government chemist in Nairobi on June 5.

Area senior chief Daniel Kanchori said the partly-eaten skull was then taken to Makindu Sub-County Hospital mortuary for preservation.

“The head of the deceased is still lying at the mortuary and is attracting a fee of Ksh500 per day. As of January 13, the bill at the mortuary stands at Ksh105,000, and the family members of the deceased cannot raise that kind of money,” said Kanchori.

Kanchori said that while KWS needed to get the DNA report for purposes of processing compensation for the deceased’s family, the process has taken unnecessarily long.

“Seven months is too long, and this is agonising the family. We have not received any word from KWS regarding the DNA and the family cannot take that human head for burial,” said the chief.

KWS Communication Director Ngugi Gecaga said he is on leave and a Jonathan Kirui is acting on his behalf.

“Send me a message containing all those details, so that I can forward it to him. He will be able to respond to those issues regarding the DNA,” said Gecaga on the telephone.

At the time of filing this report, KWS had not responded to the issues we raised.

Pastor Justus Marona, an elder brother of a teacher killed on May 24 last year, who is also a relative of the late Muterian, said the number of elephants has increased in Masimba and is threatening humans.

The pastor is an elder brother of William Sonke, 47, a teacher at MCK School in Masimba whose life was cut short by an elephant as he walked into his home on the evening of May 24 last year.

Sonke was attacked and killed 20 metres from his house in Losukoroi village as he arrived from Masimba market, where he had gone to buy foodstuff for his family.

Earlier, on the same date at around 9 am, some 3 km from Sonke’s home, his cousin Pelo Muterian was killed by an elephant.

The family of the late Sonke is now living in absolute poverty. His wife, Meteine Marona, was away in Makueni County when we visited the home on Monday.

We found her son, Bakuni Sonke, a bodaboda rider in Masimba town, and daughter Winnie Sonke. The latter has since dropped out of the University of Nairobi because of an outstanding Ksh200,000 in fees.

Winnie dropped out of the university immediately Sonke died in May last year, and she is now taking care of her two younger siblings in high school.

The money raised from bodaboda services by Bakuni helps in paying fees for the siblings.

She said her mother is doing menial jobs in homes in Makueni County to raise money for food.

The family has one cow and three goats that cannot sustain it in the production of milk.

Winnie joined the university in 2015 and enlisted for a Bachelor of Education (Arts) course. She would have completed her course late last year.

“When we came home for a vacation in April last year, I had a fee balance which my father promised to clear before I went back. This was not to happen; he passed on later in May, and that was the beginning of my agony,” said Winnie.

Her attempts to apply for county bursary funds have never been successful. She said she has applied for the money more than once but no one listens or attends to her.

“Poverty in our home is glaring at us. I have no job, but I sit here from morning to evening waiting for my mother to provide. KWS has not compensated us for the death of our father, who was the key breadwinner in this home. We never lacked anything when he was alive,” said Winnie as she wiped a tear from her left eye.

She is now appealing to well-wishers to come to her aid to enable her complete her studies at the university.

The deceased, who was a senior teacher at MCK, Masimba, left behind six children — three girls and three boys. Three are now directly dependent on their mother, while two are married and have their own homes.

Bakuni says he operates day and night at Masimba town to make ends meet for the family.

“Sometimes I go without sleep for weeks to raise fees for my siblings. My biggest challenge is raising their fees. We have made an arrangement with the schools they are going, and they allow us to pay whatever amount I make through bodaboda business,” said Bakuni.

 

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