Haki Yetu Organization has castigated the outgoing Mombasa County government for “violating rights of the dead” by approving the construction of a World Bank-funded public toilet on a graveyard.
The organization said the Governor Hassan Joho-led administration allowed developers to encroach on a public cemetery at Makuti area in Kongowea Nyali Sub County where they flattened graves and exhumed bodies to pave way for the construction of a public toilet.
Under a slogan, “the dead have rights too” the organization under the leadership of its Lands Programme Officer Munira Ali Omar, led residents in protest against the encroachment arguing that “disinterment for the purpose of constructing toilets is a show of disrespect to the memory of the dead and their kinsmen".
According to Omar who is also an advocate of the High Court, the cemetery which serves the public in Kongowea, Nyali and other parts of Mombasa has also been converted into a dumping site and can no longer be used for its intended purpose, to bury the dead.
She said the organisation had earlier written to the county government through the Department of Lands, Planning, and Housing, as well as to the National Land Commission (NLC) requesting information on the project within seven days which lapsed on August 29.
While the outgoing Joho’s administration chose to remain silent over the matter according to Omar, in a written response seen by K24 Digital, the NLC through County Lands Coordinator Edward Bosire stated that the development was not brought to the commission’s attention and therefore NLC takes great exception from the undertaking of the said project.
“An advisory is hereby entered that the County Government should follow due process in any development so far envisaged on Public Land,” stated Bosire in his response copied to NLC Chairman and four commissioners.
According to Haki Yetu, the move to exhume the buried was unlawful and therefore the new Mombasa leadership should immediately halt the ongoing construction of the toilets within seven days.
“Haki Yetu, the community of Kongowea together with religious institutions condemns the action of the county government of constructing toilets on a public cemetery on the following grounds. The law protects the sanctity of the buried which is not to be disinterred unless through a court order under extenuating circumstances.
“Construction of toilets for the public as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on a public cemetery knowing its impacts, not just to the beloved dead but also to the World Bank which has standards and policies when implementing their projects?” Posed Munira in a statement.
Mombasa County projects
For far too long, she said, the former County Government of Mombasa has been implementing projects without involving the public, noting that such projects are done at the behest of private developers or for international investors without following the due procedure.
Families who claimed their loved ones were exhumed as they watched adding that it all started with dumping.
“My wife’s grave was destroyed and bones exhumed. We saw them put up constructions. We want them to demolish the construction and let the graveyard be,” said Bruno Mahoka.
Another resident Agnes Wanjiku Kimani demanded to know where the disinterred remains of their loved ones have been taken.
“Where did they take the bones of our loved ones? We want to know. Where will we bury our loved ones if they have converted a graveyard into a construction site?” Wanjiku posed.
The residents alleged a scheming plan by Mombasa County to grab a public cemetery by approving the construction.