Human rights activist Caroline Mwatha bled to death from a ruptured uterus, an autopsy shows. The postmortem conducted yesterday by family pathologist Peter Ndegwa showed Caroline’s male foetus was mutilated by surgical interference. The autopsy was conducted at Umash Funeral Home in Nairobi.
“Somebody mutilated the foetus, it has no one left upper limb, it has no brain because it has been sucked out and the bones of the skull are fractured,” Ndegwa said.
Chief Government Pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor supervised the examination.
Ndegwa’s description of the injuries indicate Caroline died a painful death. The anatomical analysis, Ndegwa said, showed the foetus had come out of the uterus to the abdominal cavity where a lot of blood was found. Ndegwa said the uterus had been perforated at the back leaving “a very big gaping hole”.
“Therefore, what we are seeing is that somebody somewhere somehow attempted to either dismember the foetus or remove some parts.”
The pathologist said, other than the body turning pale to symbolise excessive loss of blood, there were no signs of defensive injuries on Caroline’s body.
“We also found that there were needle puncher marks on the cubital fossa meaning there was some medical intervention,” Ndegwa said.
The cubital fossa is the medical term for the area inside the elbow joint. He said samples have been taken from the body for toxicological analysis to establish the type of medicine Caroline was injected with.
Read: Six arrested in connection with Caroline Mwatha’s death – DCI
The postmortem was witnessed by Haki Africa on behalf of the human rights fraternity.
Also present was Caroline Mwatha’s family members and Dandora Community Justice Center where Caro worked.
The postmortem throws the ball in the investigators’ court. Ndegwa said they need to establish whether the attempted abortion was voluntary or forced.
“This is where we need the police officers and other investigators to find out the circumstantial evidence. Was it done when she was conscious or unconscious?” Ndegwa asked.
Caroline’s family and the husband said her body and that of the foetus should be prepared and carried separately. Husband Joshua Ochieng appeared deflated and surprised by the autopsy report.
The report confirms DCI claims on Tuesday that Caroline died while undergoing an abortion at backstreet clinic in Dandora Phase 1. Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said the failed abortion was conducted at New Njiru Community Centre by Michael Onchiri alias Dr Mike and the owner of the clinic Betty Akinyi alias Betty Ramoya.
“Investigators believe that Caroline died in the clinic and the body was transferred to the Nairobi City Mortuary on February 7 at 4:42 am,” Kinoti said.
Six people were arrested over the death. They include Betty, Mike, Alexander Gitau, taxi driver Stephen Maina, Betty’s son Richard Ramoya and Georgia Achieng Tabitha.
Kinoti said preliminary investigations showed Gitau was the father of the unborn child. The man lives in Isiolo. Police said he was in constant communication with Caroline and sent her Sh6,000 to be used for the “failed abortion”.
According to DCI, Caroline went to the clinic on February 6. Kinoti said it is believed the abortion was procured by Betty and Mike.
He said a missing person’s report on Caroline was filed at Dandora police station on February 8.
Records at City Mortuary indicate that the body was dropped off in a vehicle with registration number KBP 677B. Kinoti said her name was recorded as Carol Mbeki when it was dropped at the facility on February 7.
Caroline’s family positively identified the body on Tuesday evening after two failed searches on February 8 and 9. Before the autopsy, Caroline’s family and activists suspected foul play.
Earlier, two suspects accused of ferrying Caroline’s body to City Mortuary were detained pending investigations. The Makadara court ordered driver Martin Mwangi and loader Godfrey Otieno to be detained for 13 days.
Read: Six detained over activist’s death
Speaking on Tuesday after identifying the body, Caroline’s father Stanlaus Mbai said it had signs of blood on the neck, abdomen and a deep cut on the thigh.
“In early January she told us her work is sensitive and that we should not be telling people what she does,” Mbai said.
Until her death, Caroline was a founder member and case worker with the Dandora Community Social Justice Centre.
The social activism group documents and advocates for an end to extrajudicial killings.
“It looks like there were people who were threatening and following her,” Mbai said.
Haki Africa’s Executive Director Hussein Khalid said they are treating the death with “a lot of suspicion”.
“There are telltale signs on the body that we are still yet to get answers conclusively to confirm what truly happened to our late comrade,” Khalid said.
In a statement released after the autopsy, Khalid said Haki Africa is satisfied with how it was conducted.
“As an organization, Haki Africa is calling for speedy conclusion to the investigations to ensure those responsible are brought to book soonest,” he said.
He called for enhanced protection of human rights activists due to the nature of their work.
“The work of comrade Caroline Mwatha must live on. Her death should not define her life,” Khalid said.