In May 2020, there was a public outcry after a man was forced to spend the night at Kianjai Police Station, Meru County, with his wife’s corpse.
Charles Mwenda, 32, had lost his wife, Faith Mwende, to cancer, and was transporting her body from Malindi in Kilifi County to Nairiri village in Kianjai.
But 40 kilometres to their home, their journey took a turn for the worse. At around 11 pm on May 28, 2020, their vehicle was stopped by police officers manning a roadblock.
The officers ordered the close to 30 mourners out of their cars and ordered all of them, apart from the deceased’s husband, to return to Malindi. The police claimed that they were simply enforcing COVID-19 containment protocols and that they had contravened curfew hours.
The cops went on to usher Mwenda into a waiting police vehicle, together with his wife’s casket. The police officers then dropped him off at the police station, while the body of his wife was offloaded from the vehicle and placed by the roadside.
Mwenda spent the entire night out in the cold alongside the casket containing his wife’s remains. When it started raining, he covered the casket with a tarpaulin and placed it under a lorry that had been packed at the station.
The next day he was picked up with a friend at around 6 am and managed to give his wife a ‘befitting’ send off, without his three children, family and friends.
KSh1.5M compensation for Mwenda
The Meru High Court on Wednesday, June 30 awarded Mwenda KSh1.5 million as damages following the incident.
While making the ruling, presiding judge Edward Muriithi said that the treatment meted on Mwenda was not only degrading but also an infringement to his Constitutional rights.
“An order is hereby issued that the actions by the police under the national police service headed by the first responded violated the provisions of the constitution under articles 3,4,10, 19,25, 28 & 29 and thus infringed on the rights to dignity, protection against torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment of the petitioner under the bill of rights of the constitution of Kenya 2010. There will be an order therefore for compensation for Sh1.5 million as general and exemplary damages against the first respondent for violating the petitioner’s constitutional rights,” ruled the judge.