Ms Melida Auma, the mother of slain Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, on Monday accused Migori Governor Okoth Obado of betraying her daughter, whom she said loved the governor “a lot”.
Speaking moments after coming face-to-face with the man who is accused of murdering her daughter, Ms Auma struggled to contain the storm of emotions raging in her chest, and kept wiping tears off her face. Mr Obado has denied the charges.
Ms Auma said she was yet to come to terms with the tragic death of her first-born daughter, who was seven months pregnant with the governor’s son when she was abducted and killed in Homa Bay three weeks ago.
She had been sitting quietly inside a courtroom at Nairobi’s Milimani Law Courts yesterday, waiting impatiently for the moment Mr Obado would walk in, and somehow steeling herself despite the obvious discomfort written all over her face.
Her husband, Mr Douglas Otieno, sat next to her, stoic in this moment of pain. Every now and then he would steal a glance at his wife, somehow giving her the mute assurance that he was there; all would be well.
But all was not well, because the moment Mr Obado was escorted into the courtroom, Ms Auma lost control of her emotions.
The tears she had battled to bottle up streamed down her cheeks. She did not wipe them. It was as if she did not notice them, or even feel them.
A few metres from her, in the dock, Mr Obado avoided eye contact with her, instead surveying the rest of the courtroom as if it was part of his territory.
Mr Otieno reached out to wipe his wife’s tears. Mr Obado stared away. The cameras clicked away.
In the din of shutters and the drone of agitated voices, Ms Auma’s silent mourning for her daughter, now lying in a mortuary in Mbita, went almost unnoticed.
Outside the courtroom, father and mother opened up, saying they felt tormented when they faced Mr Obado for the first time in person.
They had travelled some 450 kilometres to Nairobi overnight from their Magare home in Homa Bay County, eager to see their daughter’s boyfriend, now a foe and key suspect in the murder, being charged.
“I felt tormented and wondered how he could just be involved in the brutal killing of my beloved child. I asked myself endless questions on just how he could have betrayed my child who loved him a lot,” Ms Auma told the Nation.
While seated in court and Mr Obado behind the dock, Ms Auma recalled how her daughter was killed and strong emotions ran through her, weakening her entire body.
All she could see was the mutilated body of her daughter and how her beauty in life had been robbed.
Ms Auma could figure out in her heart how her daughter’s killers were mocking them, but only prayed that justice will overcome evil.
The woman appeared weak and lost in thoughts as the court proceedings dragged on. At one point, she had to be supported by relatives.
Overcome by emotions, she broke down, weeping uncontrollably and lamenting that the killers of her daughter could still afford to stand before them and even smile.
“I felt scared. How could the man in front of me lead to the death of my heavily pregnant daughter and her unborn child? This is unexplainable, it is too much for me and I do not want to talk about it,” she said.
At the time of this interview, Ms Auma was still heavy with emotions and pleaded that we stop it.
Sharon’s father said he found himself helpless and was equally overcome by emotions, but had to remain strong to support his wife who had been overweighed by grief. It tore his heart more to see his wife sorrowful.
But a man must be a man, and the 51-year-old could only watch in silence as the case proceeded, sometimes wiping off tears from his wife’s eyes.
“This is a devil’s doing. So many things ran into my mind when I saw the governor in front of me. I felt evil things inside me and only asked God to take control of me,” he said.
Further, he envisioned the state of his daughter’s body which has been lying at the Med25 International-Kenya Hospital Mortuary in Mbita.
“How could some of her killers still afford to be free, three weeks after they brutally murdered my daughter who was a jewel to me. I felt bitter.”
He had earlier told the Nation that he visits the morgue almost on daily basis.
“There, I often ask the attendants to bring her body to me. I sit beside it, touching and observing it. It satisfies my heart to just see it,” he says in a heart-wrecking revelation as he opened his heart out for the first time about his daughter’s death.
But beyond his grief was some sort of relief. “I felt comforted that as a family, we will find justice for my daughter and her unborn child. Seeing the governor behind the dock gave some assurance that Sharon’s killers will face the law,” he said.
He was also happy that the court remanded the Migori governor, saying he feared that his immediate release would jeopardise investigations.
Mr Obado was sent to prison after his lawyers lost a bid to have him detained at the Gigiri Police Station where he spent the weekend. The governor will be held pending hearing of his bond request, which will be argued on Tuesday at 2pm.
“It would have been very bad if they had freed him on bail. He could probably have met with other suspects who are yet to be arrested,” Mr Otieno said.
He lauded detectives saying they had so far done a commendable job and asked them not to relent on their investigations and determination to nail down Sharon’s killers.
“The officers have tried. I have no complaints. The detectives also told me they arrested another aide to the governor,” the former clerk at Migori District hospital, now a Level Five County Referral Hospital, said.
Minutes to the start of the proceedings, police arrested the governor’s bodyguard identified as Mr John Chacha.
He had just entered the hotel when officers in plainclothes pounced on him.
Reports indicate Mr Chacha was arrested on orders of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, which claims he forged academic papers to secure a police job in 2006.