Dandora activist Caroline Mwatha
Dandora activist Caroline Mwatha

Human rights groups and the family of activist Caroline Mwatha yesterday dismissed police reports that she died after a botched abortion.

Caroline’s father Stanslaus Mbai said the police’s narrative was ‘hollow, nondescript and not true’. He spoke at City Mortuary, where they camped to wait for a postmortem.

Caroline worked for Dandora Community Justice Centre, a human rights lobby that fights against extrajudicial killings, police brutality and enforced disappearances. It has been documenting police executions in the estate and its environs. Mbai said:

Saying that Caro died from an abortion operation gone wrong is hogwash. We’ve been with her and we know that she was not pregnant.

Husband Joshua Ochieng’ expressed dismay at the allegations, saying the abortion theory could not hold.

If she was supposedly aborting for fear of ruining her marriage, why would she wait to do that after five months?” he asked. Why didn’t she do it in the first month or two or even less?.

Joshua Ochieng
Caroline Mwatha’s husband Joshua Ochieng (L) and her father Stanslaus Mbai (R)

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Mbai questioned the credibility of the records at the morgue. He said his family and friends had visited the morgue and conducted a thorough search from February 8 but did not find the body. They also visited other mortuaries.  The father of four said:

We were here on February 8 and 9 but did not find her. We asked about Caroline. If there was a body by the name Caroline, we could have been shown so we identify her.

The mortuary attendants had explained on Tuesday that a woman only identified as Grace took the activist’s body to the facility on February 7. Asked on Tuesday to disclose the attendant who was in charge, they said the staff had taken leave.

Records show the body was booked as Carolyne Mbeki. It is not clear how they arrived at the name.

Human rights activists, led by Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid and Dandora Community Justice Centre coordinator Wilfred Olal, took issue with ‘the police providing information to the media regarding the discovery of the body, even before informing the family.’

Olal asked:

How did they know that the name assigned to the discovered body was wrong? How is that they found it right to tip the media of the discovery but not informing the family who had reported a missing person?.

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Activist Florence Kanyua asked why the postmortem planned for yesterday was pushed to next Monday, with an excuse that chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor was in Naivasha. She asked:

It is them who told us that the postmortem would be carried out today? Why was it postponed to Monday? Is Oduor the only pathologist who can do it?

The Star learnt that Oduor was in Arusha. It later emerged that the postmortem is to be done today.

Khalid said:

They told us when I was here with Houghton Irungu [Transparency International director] that they would do the autopsy at 9am. We have even come with our independent pathologist to work together with theirs. What is it now?