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Why Catholic Church refused to conduct requiem for activist Caroline Mwatha

The human rights community paid their last respects to Caroline Mwatha at the Freedom Corner in Nairobi ahead of her burial this weekend.

The casket carrying her body was placed at the middle with portraits of her surrounding the podium.

The ceremony was moved to Freedom Corner after the Catholic Church, where the deceased activist’s family fellowships, refused to hold the service.

This is after postmortem revealed she died from complications arising from attempts to procure an abortion. The church has a strong stand against abortion.

Present were husband Joshua Ochieng’, parents, former chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga, Rev. Timothy Njoya, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, former cabinet minister Martha Karua, and activists led by Boniface Mwangi and Okiya Omtatah.

Speaker after speaker eulogized Caroline for the work she did for her community in Dandora.

“Carol was murdered in a month in which we celebrate Dedan Kimathi, Robert Ouko, Pio Gama Pinto, Malcolm X and many other human right defenders. Carol will be immortalized; she is the only woman in this month.” Said Dr Willy Mutunga.

“When I heard the police narrative, I knew it wasn’t the truth, even if the police tell you the truth by mistake, you should not believe them,” he added.

Hussein Khalid from Haki Africa said, “We don’t buy the theory the police are trying to sell to Kenyans. The body was brought to City Mortuary after police heard we were planning a demonstration.”

Family and friends are traveling to Caroline’s Asembo Bay rural home in Siaya County on Friday February 22, 2019, a day before she is laid to rest.

“After we are done with her burial, the next chapter will begin. From Monday our only agenda will be seeking justice for Caroline,” vowed Mr Wilfred Olal, her former colleagues at Dandora Justice Center.

According to the father Mr Stanslaus Mbai, Caroline feared for her life because of the work she was doing but admitted that she had never received a threat personally.

“She was with us on New Year but she told us (mother) not to tell our friends and neighbours the kind of work she does. As a parent, I told her to stop the work but she insisted that was her calling,” her father said.

The group said it would hold a final vigil at the Freedom Corner before they depart for Siaya.