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Police on the spot over congested morgues

The rising number of unclaimed bodies at public morgues in Nairobi has been attributed to negligence among the police and strained family relations.

Head of City Mortuary David Wanjohi cited the failure by police to take fingerprints of the deceased to help in the identification of the bodies as the main challenge.

The police are allowed by law to transfer bodies of victims of accidents, mob justice, suicide, sudden death, or those dumped after the murder, among others, to the morgue.

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

Wanjohi further explained that the fingerprints reports are used to locate the deceased’s next of kin.

“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 some family members are not willing to come forward to pick bodies of their kins who had cut ties with other family members back home.

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.

Currently, City Mortuary is planning to dispose off another 147 unclaimed bodies, just months after disposing 57 such bodies in a mass grave at Lang’ata cemetery.

These were part of 70 unclaimed bodies lying at the three city morgues including City Mortuary, Mama Lucy Kibaki Funeral Home and Mbagathi Hospital Funeral Home.

In March this year, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) had also called upon members of the public to collect 119 unclaimed bodies at various city morgues. The bodies had accumulated at the morgues between May and October, 2020.