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Mourners storm Governor's office with empty coffins

12 March 2015, 15:16 Dareel Eric

Vihiga - Mourners in Vihiga County were forced to demonstrate with empty coffins to Governor Moses Akaranga’s office demanding the re-opening of the mortuary that had been closed by striking health officers.

Services were stalled in Mbale town for the better part of Wednesday after the mourners who had been kept waiting at the Vihiga Hospital’s mortuary, the County’s main facility, decided to march to the Governor’s office to seek redress.

On Wednesday, health workers in the County went on strike demanding their salaries, but Governor Akaranga dared them to quit if they could not work in a crisis laden hospital.

Thursdays have been an official day in the county when residents throng the mortuary to take their dead for burials over the weekend.

Speaking to journalists, mourners who had camped at the mortuary for over four hours waiting for the health workers to solve their issues and open the doors for them, expressed their displeasure with the treatment they got.

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“We have come to take our beloved ones so we could go and pay them the last respect they deserve. Some of us have come from as far as Kakamega County to collect the bodies early in the morning so we can arrive early, but now we have been delayed,” said Rev Wycliffe Shisaswa.

Another mourner who had gone to collect the body of their 80-year-old mother said that they had seen the body before the mortuary was closed and noted that it had not been attended to as expected.

“We came here at 7am and had already paid to take the body from the mortuary but then this is how things have turned out. We fear that if we will not take it today, it may rot,” said Cecilia Adembesa.

The angry mourners attempted to break the mortuary doors but were restrained by security officers who were keeping vigil.

The mourners then decided to take the empty coffins to the Governor’s office to register their displeasure.

It forced the County askaris and administration police to use force in dispersing the mourners who were chanting ‘haki yetu’ and demanding audience with the Governor.

After hours of the scuffle, the mortuary was finally opened at 12pm and the mourners allowed to take their dead home.

The Governor who was locked in a cabinet meeting sent his emissaries to address the issue.

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