Kenyan police now say that incidences of decomposing bodies being recovered from a river in the western part of the country have been going on for two years.
The authorities were not forthcoming with answers to why the deaths and manner of disposal of the bodies has not been investigated and stopped. In the past two years, cases of missing people have been reported with the police predictably “launching investigations’ that never resolve the mysteries of missing people.
However, Police Spokesman Bruno Shioso says that investigations had yet to reveal those responsible or the motive behind the killings.
Some of the bodies are found with deep cuts, others with ropes tied around their necks and stashed in sacks. Last week, the body of a man of Somali origin was retrieved from the river. According to divers, his head had a gaping hole and what appears to be a deep cut. Just like the other bodies that have been retrieved from the river, his body was found stashed in a gunny bag.
But just who is dumping bodies in River Yala and its tributary river Edzava? That is the jigsaw puzzle that has left residents and authorities stunned.
There seems be some discrepancy over the numbers. On Tuesday, activists went to the Yala Sub-County Hospital, about 40km (24 miles) north-west of the lakeside city of Kisumu, and said they counted 20 bodies recovered from River Yala which had been unclaimed.
As the hospital only keeps unclaimed bodies for 90 days, they must have been recovered over the last three months. Journalists have since seen two more bodies in the river.
Interviews with several residents and rescuers, as well as statistics of the bodies kept at Yala Sub-County Hospital mortuary, have lifted the lid on the gravity of the matter.
Just metres away from the main river at a bridge along the Edzava tributary, there were decomposing bodies.
But in a statement on Wednesday, the National Police Service said it had cases of only 19 bodies being reported over a period of two years. A diver who says he has been helping retrieve the corpses for the last six months believes there could be many more bodies in the river.
Families missing their loved ones have started reporting to the local police headquarters hoping to identify the bodies, some of which are badly decomposed.
The police say a special forensics team has been sent to Yala to speed up the identification of the victims. Anxious Kenyans are demanding answers, amid allegations that most of the bodies recovered from the river had shown signs of torture.
- A Tell / Agencies report