Residents of a small Kenyan village expressed disbelief when they heard county officials had exhumed the body of a man who had recently died.
Martin Hikuku Alukoye, 31, died on Aug. 7 when he drowned in Kakamega. Local reports said he was believed to have suffered an epileptic seizure while trying to cross the Eburinde River.
He was buried Sunday in his Kakamega County Youth Service uniform and in line with local customs, the Daily Nation reported.
The next day, community county administrators went to the family’s home in a bid to take back the service uniform that was allocated to Alukoye. When they learned that the family had buried him in his uniform, they demanded the body be exhumed to retrieve it.
Despite protestations from the family and without a court order, the county officials forcibly exhumed the body.
Alukoye’s uncle told the newspaper that the officers’ actions “went against the law of the land and the laws of our forefathers.”
“We had fully involved the county government in the burial arrangements and they never resisted our proposal to bury our son in his work regalia,” Francis Mutamba said, adding a group of county officials had been present at the burial and said nothing.
“We had decided to bury our son at night in line with culture which dictates that a person who died by drowning should not be buried while the sun is shining,” Mutamba added. “But the county officials have surprised us when they decided to exhume the body to recover their regalia.”
Daniel Namayi, the assistant chief of the Ituti area, condemned the exhumation and threatened legal action against the officers.
“Once a body has been buried, it required anyone with a complaint to get a court order in order to exhume it,” he told the Daily Nation. “The county administrators have gone against the law in recovering [the] clothing.”
He said on-duty police officers who die are buried in full uniform and this should be different for officers serving in counties.
Alukoye’s body was dressed in a new set of clothes and reburied Monday evening after village elders performed rituals to cleanse the family.
The uniform and boots that had been stripped from the body were still hanging from a tree waiting to be collected, The Standard reported Tuesday.