Ms Melida Auma, the mother of slain Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, on Monday accused Migori Governor Okoth Obado of betraying her daughter, whom she said loved the governor “a lot”.
Speaking moments after coming face-to-face with the man who is accused of murdering her daughter, Ms Auma struggled to contain the storm of emotions raging in her chest, and kept wiping tears off her face. Mr Obado has denied the charges.
Ms Auma said she was yet to come to terms with the tragic death of her first-born daughter, who was seven months pregnant with the governor’s son when she was abducted and killed in Homa Bay three weeks ago.
She had been sitting quietly inside a courtroom at Nairobi’s Milimani Law Courts yesterday, waiting impatiently for the moment Mr Obado would walk in, and somehow steeling herself despite the obvious discomfort written all over her face.
Her husband, Mr Douglas Otieno, sat next to her, stoic in this moment of pain. Every now and then he would steal a glance at his wife, somehow giving her the mute assurance that he was there; all would be well.
But all was not well, because the moment Mr Obado was escorted into the courtroom, Ms Auma lost control of her emotions.
The tears she had battled to bottle up streamed down her cheeks. She did not wipe them. It was as if she did not notice them, or even feel them.
A few metres from her, in the dock, Mr Obado avoided eye contact with her, instead surveying the rest of the courtroom as if it was part of his territory.
Mr Otieno reached out to wipe his wife’s tears. Mr Obado stared away. The cameras clicked away.
In the din of shutters and the drone of agitated voices, Ms Auma’s silent mourning for her daughter, now lying in a mortuary in Mbita, went almost unnoticed.
Outside the courtroom, father and mother opened up, saying they felt tormented when they faced Mr Obado for the first time in person.
They had travelled some 450 kilometres to Nairobi overnight from their Magare home in Homa Bay County, eager to see their daughter’s boyfriend, now a foe and key suspect in the murder, being charged.
“I felt tormented and wondered how he could just be involved in the brutal killing of my beloved child. I asked myself endless questions on just how he could have betrayed my child who loved him a lot,” Ms Auma told the Nation.
While seated in court and Mr Obado behind the dock, Ms Auma recalled how her daughter was killed and strong emotions ran through her, weakening her entire body.
All she could see was the mutilated body of her daughter and how her beauty in life had been robbed.
Ms Auma could figure out in her heart how her daughter’s killers were mocking them, but only prayed that justice will overcome evil.
The woman appeared weak and lost in thoughts as the court proceedings dragged on. At one point, she had to be supported by relatives.
Overcome by emotions, she broke down, weeping uncontrollably and lamenting that the killers of her daughter could still afford to stand before them and even smile.
“I felt scared. How could the man in front of me lead to the death of my heavily pregnant daughter and her unborn child? This is unexplainable, it is too much for me and I do not want to talk about it,” she said.
At the time of this interview, Ms Auma was still heavy with emotions and pleaded that we stop it.
Sharon’s father said he found himself helpless and was equally overcome by emotions, but had to remain strong to support his wife who had been overweighed by grief. It tore his heart more to see his wife sorrowful.
But a man must be a man, and the 51-year-old could only watch in silence as the case proceeded, sometimes wiping off tears from his wife’s eyes.
“This is a devil’s doing. So many things ran into my mind when I saw the governor in front of me. I felt evil things inside me and only asked God to take control of me,” he said.
Further, he envisioned the state of his daughter’s body which has been lying at the Med25 International-Kenya Hospital Mortuary in Mbita.
“How could some of her killers still afford to be free, three weeks after they brutally murdered my daughter who was a jewel to me. I felt bitter.”
He had earlier told the Nation that he visits the morgue almost on daily basis.
“There, I often ask the attendants to bring her body to me. I sit beside it, touching and observing it. It satisfies my heart to just see it,” he says in a heart-wrecking revelation as he opened his heart out for the first time about his daughter’s death.
But beyond his grief was some sort of relief. “I felt comforted that as a family, we will find justice for my daughter and her unborn child. Seeing the governor behind the dock gave some assurance that Sharon’s killers will face the law,” he said.
He was also happy that the court remanded the Migori governor, saying he feared that his immediate release would jeopardise investigations.
Mr Obado was sent to prison after his lawyers lost a bid to have him detained at the Gigiri Police Station where he spent the weekend. The governor will be held pending hearing of his bond request, which will be argued on Tuesday at 2pm.
“It would have been very bad if they had freed him on bail. He could probably have met with other suspects who are yet to be arrested,” Mr Otieno said.
He lauded detectives saying they had so far done a commendable job and asked them not to relent on their investigations and determination to nail down Sharon’s killers.
“The officers have tried. I have no complaints. The detectives also told me they arrested another aide to the governor,” the former clerk at Migori District hospital, now a Level Five County Referral Hospital, said.
Minutes to the start of the proceedings, police arrested the governor’s bodyguard identified as Mr John Chacha.
He had just entered the hotel when officers in plainclothes pounced on him.
Reports indicate Mr Chacha was arrested on orders of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, which claims he forged academic papers to secure a police job in 2006.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.