The body of a Kandara man was returned to the mortuary after some villagers blocked the path that was to be used to ferry it home.
The bereaved family arrived at Naaro village with Peter Mwangi’s body from the Murang’a County Hospital mortuary, only to face an obstacle. There was no road ahead and they could not access Mwangi’s home.
Some residents said the path cut through their farms and accused Mwangi’s relatives and friends of destroying crops and causing “massive damage”.
The mourners, keen not to pick a fight, placed the coffin at the roadside and began singing and praying, hoping that the opposing team would back off. The standoff lasted for hours but the villagers stayed put.
The police intervened and returned the body to the mortuary.
Resident Charles Kiganjo said the closure was necessary because the home of the deceased, alongside those of other neighbours, has no access road. He said Mwangi’s relatives had created a temporary path across their farms without seeking their consent.
On Monday, Mwangi’s friends and relatives descended on their farms with machetes and cut down maize and bananas to create more space to allow the coffin to pass, Kiganjo alleged.
“They are our neighbours, but we’re saying the deceased will not be ferried through the farms. They are now saying after today they will make the footpath their road,” Kiganjo said.
Every time they lose their loved ones, they ask to be allowed to pass through the farms to bury their dead, he said. This time, however, they did not seek permission, he added.
He said they had allowed the families to pass through their farms, especially schoolchildren, but cautioned them against ferrying bulky loads. Kiganjo questioned how surveyors demarcated the land without leaving any space for the family to access the main road.
But 70-year-old Simon Ndung’u said roads were reserved for the families but grabbed by greedy residents.
“It’s saddening to see these people suffer, yet there is a government that has issued a burial permit and has not shown them where to pass through,” he said.
Ndung’u urged the government to recover all grabbed road reserves.