Four Kenyans were killed on Sunday when a van ploughed into their crowd at Iganga in Uganda. Five people were injured, one in critical condition.

The victims were part of 150 pilgrims trekking to Namugongo for an annual Catholic faithful meeting.

Two of those killed died at the scene. The other two succumbed to their injuries at  Iganga Hospital. The driver of the van was arrested. The victims were from Bungoma and Busia counties.

Roseline Wanjala, 51, and Godfrey Ashiuna were from St Teresa of Avila Naitiri Parish in Tongaren, Bungoma county. They were from Maliki and Pwani villages respectively.

Yesterday, a sombre mood gripped their homes as families tried to come to terms with their deaths.

Neighbours, friends, relatives and church members streamed to the homes to condole with the families as preparations for burial arrangements began.

Godfrey’s family declined to talk to reporters, preferring to be left to grieve in private.

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Roseline’s husband Hudson Wanjala said he received news of the wife’s death in a parable. Wanjala is a catechist at Naitiri Parish.

He said the father at the parish called him and talked to him asking him to always be strong in the face of adversity. The father promised to call him again.

“After attending the first mass, I noticed the father had called a few elders aside and they were talking in low tones. Some church members moved close to me and conveyed the sad news that my wife had passed on,” Wanjala said.

Wanjala and the father were accompanied by a few church members to Busia where they received the bodies.

“The bodies were brought to us by Ugandan authorities,” he said.

Roseline was making her fourth trip to Namugongo. Two of the previous trips were made on foot with the other one using a matatu.

She was a mother of three boys and three girls having got married in 1986.

Wanjala said his wife did not want to go to Namugongo and only changed her mind at the eleventh hour.

“She had taken a loan but was scared she might fail to pay back but I promised I would help her repay,” Wanjala said.

“She had called me at about 8 am, saying she was planning to go see our last born-son who is a KCSE candidate. she said the boy had called.”

Margret Simiyu, Roseline’s mother-in-law described her daughter-in-law as a peaceful woman who was very lovely and friendly.

“She had promised to buy me a Catholic dress,” Margret said.

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Roseline’s brother Abraham Maumbu said the sister was a pillar who united the family and assisted in solving disputes.

“My sister had a good heart and would remind us to be God-fearing during our family merry-go-round meetings,” Maumbu said.

Charles Kisia, Roseline’s choir coach said the death was a big blow to the team because they always relied on “her sweet voice.”

“She was one of the dependable voices during competitions,” Kisia said. The two have worked together at the parish for 22 years.

Kenyan pilgrims annually trek to Namugongo to join Ugandan faithful in remembering martyrs. The celebrations take place on June 3.

– The Star/ Kevin Cheruiyot

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