Police have arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of killing his mother and burying her in a shallow grave in Kasarani village, Igembe North, Meru County.
Mr Isaac Ntongai is said to have secretly interred the remains of his mother, Ms Mariam Kainda, 86, without informing family members and authorities after she allegedly succumbed Sunday night.
Residents claimed that the man had been spotted several times flogging his mother, including at around the time she is suspected to have died.
They said the man had been antagonising his mother and could have caused her death.
“We heard her begging him to spare her life as he beat her. He was beating her the way one beats a child,” said a resident, whose claims could not be authenticated.
But Mr Ntongai told police and angry residents who wanted to beat him up that his mother died of natural causes and had even blessed him and his child minutes before her demise.
The farmer said he cared for his mother and had watched her suffer through sickness as she had allegedly issued firm instructions that she should not be taken to hospital or a mortuary.
“She had been unwell that day and we could see she was in bad shape and had difficulties breathing. My wife had prepared porridge for her but she could not take it. She blessed me and my daughter, and in the morning we found that she had died,” said Mr Ntongai.
The suspect contradicted himself at one point, claiming that his mother had died immediately after the purported blessings but later stuck to the line that he had found her dead in the morning.
Police from Laare, led by OCS Ezra Sambu, exhumed the body and took it to the Nyambene hospital mortuary for a postmortem.
He claims that he had visited the local chief’s office on Monday seeking a burial permit but was not issued with one because he did not have an identity card.
Mr Ntongai said he decided to bury his mother with the help of his wife after the administrators failed to respond.
However, Ndoleli Assistant Chief Fredrick Michubu said he only learnt of the death from a village elder, who informed him that the elderly woman had been secretly interred without a burial permit.
“The man is a loner and keeps much to himself. When I questioned him, he said that the body had started decomposing and that is when he decided to bury it. I informed the police and he was arrested,” he said.
The incident came two months after police in the same area arrested a man suspected of killing his disabled daughter and burying her in a shallow grave in Mwerolaare village, Igembe North.
Mr Lawrence Kirimi hurriedly buried Yvonne Kendi, 13, in a knee-deep grave on his miraa farm, behind the family’s main house in April.
Ntunene Senior Chief Murungi Matundu said the 50-year-old father of seven had acted suspiciously after officials visited his homestead to investigate the incident, and did not act as someone mourning.
He wondered why Mr Kirimi, a former butcher, did not inform his neighbours of the death and burial, and secretly interred the remains moments after the girl died.
Scene of crime officers who exhumed the body revealed that the body was still oozing blood, three days after it was buried and suggested that the girl might have been injured.
The body had been wrapped in a bedsheet with the legs slightly bent at the knees.
However, Mr Kirimi insisted the death was natural and he had acted swiftly to save the other six children from being affected by the death.