Kiambu Chief Magistrate Patricia Gichohi has issued an order allowing the Kiambu Level 5 hospital to dispose of 26 unclaimed bodies that have overstayed at the hospital mortuary.
The hospital will dispose of the unclaimed bodies on expiry of the 14-days’ notice during which people who have lost relatives are expected to visit the morgue and help in the identification prior to the disposal.
Ms Gichohi granted the orders after an affidavit sworn by the hospital’s Public Health Officer in charge of sanitation Teresia Wanjiru Kimani that gave the hospital leeway to proceed with the disposal in the event nobody shows up to claim the bodies.
According to the law, if a body remains at the institution unclaimed for 21 days, the hospital is allowed to dispose of it so long as they have sought orders from the court and are given 14 days’ notice to allow the public to collect them.
Ms Gichohi allowed the hospital’s administrator to bury the said bodies after giving members of the public the prescribed 14-day notice to enable them to own up in the identification exercise.
Bodies that will not have been identified and claimed by March 4th, 2020, will be buried at the public cemetery in Kanunga ward of Kiambu sub-county in Kiambu County.
The magistrate, however, cautioned that the bodies should only be disposed of after the expiry of the notice adding it would be traumatic for the hospital to bury someone whose relatives would show up later to claim the body.
The hospital has a capacity of only 23 bodies and by yesterday, it was holding 40 bodies, thus causing congestion at the facility.
Kiambu hospital mortuary handles bodies from the health facility and those who succumb in homes within Kiambu County. However, accident victims’ bodies are supposed to be taken to City Mortuary in Nairobi County.
Among the bodies that remain unclaimed as at the time of the order are those of eight unknown African males, 10 known African males among them that of a 17-year-old prisoner from Kiambu GK Prison, one unknown African.
Other bodies are those of infants who succumbed while at the hospital and were abandoned by their mothers.
Some of the unclaimed bodies were of patients who had been admitted to the hospital and after they succumbed to illnesses or injuries, they were abandoned by their relatives.
Ms Kimani said anyone who intends to view the unclaimed bodies was welcome to the facility any day and would be served.
“We receive three to four bodies on a daily basis and sometimes it can be chaotic as they can even be ten owing to the location of the hospital where all accident victims are rushed,” she noted.
Adding that the last unclaimed bodies had been buried by the hospital authorities in December 2018.
Ms Kimani said “Owing to the limited storage space for bodies in the cold-room cabinets, the hospital morgue is overstretched and action needs to be taken to dispose of the bodies in a mass grave in 14 days incase nobody shows up to help in the identification of their lost ones.”
Meanwhile, the officer added that the hospital intended to renovate and expand the facility from the current capacity to hold at least 50 bodies in the next two months.
KNA Lydia Shiloya