By Wilson Abiri
- 14 pupils died after a stampede
- They were aged between 8-12 years
- The dead were five boys and nine girls
- Bodies are being preserved at Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary
- Kakamega Primary School has been closed down for one week
- DP Ruto says government to cater for hospital and burial expenses
Deputy President William Ruto has said that the government will cater for the hospital and burial expenses for the 14 pupils of Kakamega Primary School who died on Monday following a stampede.
Ruto said he had been sent by President Uhuru Kenyatta who is currently in the United States to come and condole with parents and relatives of the deceased and assure them of government support.
Dr Ruto was speaking at the institution where he said a committee has already been put in place under the supervision of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to organise how the dead pupils will be given a befitting sendoff next week.
“The committee has officials from both the national and county government who will be given resources to ensure all the hospital bills as wells as burial expenses are taken care of by the government,’ said Ruto.
The Deputy President said the stampede around 4.40 pm when the pupils were going home. He said a total of 14 pupils lost their lives out of which 37 of them were treated and discharged, adding that 46 were injured and currently undergoing treatment.
He added that two other pupils were still at the intensive Care Unit (ICU), 3 are in surgical wards and three others have been admitted at the general wards.
The fourteen dead pupils consisted of five boys and nine girls aged between 8-12 years old.
Kakamega primary has a total of 3128 pupils in the primary section with an average of 64 pupils per stream distributed across 51 classrooms. The primary school also has 296 pupils in the ECDE section.
“The pupils will remain at home so as to allow the investigating agencies to final their investigations and will report back on Monday. The agencies will also investigate on the safety standards of the three storey building and also audit its structural design,” said Dr Ruto.
The affected pupils were from classes four and five in the first and second floor of the building.
On Tuesday morning, Education CS George Magoha together with Basic Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang and Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna visited the primary school.
Magoha assured the bereaved families that the government is keen in knowing the real cause of the stampede and ruled out the narrative that the pupils were running on the stairs, slipped and fell down.
Magoha insisted that he had visited the school sometimes in December last year and witnessed pupils going up and down of the staircases smoothly without any commotion.
“I am very familiar with this school, I inspected the school less than two months ago. It is one of the finest primary schools in the republic led by one of the finest teachers in the republic, I am perplexed as to what could have cost the stampede, as a Christian I only want the truth.” Magoha stated.
Governor Oparanya said they will work closely with the national government to ensure the little angels are given a befitting sendoff.
“I also want to thank the doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly with us throughout the night to ensure that our children get proper medical attention out of which more than thirty pupils were treated and allowed to go back home yesterday evening.” Oparanya stated.
Oparanya appealed to the public to remain calm since the investigations were underway.
Former Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale raised shocking claims of the manner in which the stampede happened.
Khalwale, a medical doctor by profession said he was shocked why none of the 14 fallen angels didn’t bleed anywhere, saying he suspects a foul play in the whole incident.
An agitated Khalwale cited unbecoming patterns of turning the school into a worship Centre by some questionable denominations in Kakamega town.
He asked CS Magoha to intervene on the matter saying public schools are learning centres and should not be made or hired by people as places of worship as their worship patterns are questionable.
The leaders were accompanied Kakamega Deputy Governor, Prof Philip Kutima, Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Bishop Titus Khamala (Lurambi), and Western Regional Commissioner Anne Ng’etich, Peris Kimani, the Western Regional Police Commander and other security officials.
At the Kakamega County Teaching and Hospital mortuary, parents and relatives of the departed pupils were wailing uncontrollably upon seeing the lifeless bodies of their children at the morgue.
At least fifteen people fainted when they saw the dead pupils lying at the morgue and were attended to by first aiders from St John’s Ambulance.
The police and Kakamega County askaris had a rough time in controlling the multitude that had gathered at the mortuary to see the dead bodies of the pupils.
Lucy Mugamaji, 30, is among the parents who lost their children. Her 10 year old first born daughter, Catherine Aloo.
“I saw last my daughter when alive on Monday at 6.10am and parted ways. At 5.30pm,the boda boda rider who normally picks informed me that there has been an accident at Kakamega Primary and that he has been informed my daughter is among those injured,” said Ms Mugamaji.
Mugamaji said she rushed to the hospital and could not see her and informed the husband to check at Nala nursing home, saying upon reaching, she found her already dead.
Diana Atamba lost her only son,Fidel Shikhuyu who was in class five. Justus Shikhuyu,Fideli’s father died when he was barely two years in 2011. He succumbed to throat cancer aged 22.