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Police negligence, broken family ties faulted for unclaimed bodies

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City Mortuary. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Police negligence and strained family relations are to blame for the high numbers of unclaimed bodies in Nairobi, a mortuary boss has said.
  • Head of City Mortuary David Wanjohi said failure by police to take fingerprints of the deceased to help in identification of the bodies has been at the heart of the increasing numbers.
  • Police take bodies of victims of accidents, mob justice, suicide, sudden death or those dumped after murder, among other causes to the mortuary.

Police negligence and strained family relations are to blame for the high numbers of unclaimed bodies in Nairobi, a mortuary boss has said.

Head of City Mortuary David Wanjohi said failure by police to take fingerprints of the deceased to help in identification of the bodies has been at the heart of the increasing numbers.

Police take bodies of victims of accidents, mob justice, suicide, sudden death or those dumped after murder, among other causes to the mortuary.

He accused police officers of failing to follow up and bring back reports of the deceased after admission of the bodies.

Mr Wanjohi said police officers fail to follow up and bring back fingerprints reports, which are used to trace the next of kin and notify them.

“Some police officers just bring the bodies and the journey ends there. When the fingerprint reports are not brought back at the morgue, the bodies are kept as unclaimed since there is no way we can trace the next of kin,” said Mr Wanjohi.

On strained family ties, the City Mortuary boss said some family members were not willing to come forward to pick bodies of their kin who had cut ties with them.

He said such cases have been on the rise as the unwilling family members leave the deceased for the morgue attendants to deal with them.

According to Mr Wanjohi, some either give out wrong phone numbers once they bring the bodies at the mortuary or ignore when the morgue attendants reach out to them.

“In fact some families come and after identifying the bodies give us a go ahead to dispose them. This is because the deceased never bothered to go back home or maintain ties with their family after coming to the city,” he said.

Currently, he said City Mortuary is planning to dispose another 147 unclaimed bodies, just months after disposing 57 such bodies in July, 2021 in a mass grave at Lang'ata cemetery.