The dark night of Thursday, the 28th of September 2017 will be forever lodged in the memory of 45 year old single mother Margaret Mugusu.
Like a bad dream, she hopes that she will wake up and bring to a halt the tirades nightmares that have engulfed her life. But it is all so real.
That night, at around 11:30 PM, a truck carrying sand along the Motemorabu-Mabera road, which is currently under construction, in Kuria West, Migori County, lost control and rammed into a hut where her children slept.
“I heard a loud bang followed by screams of my children. When I woke up, I saw the wall of the room where my children slept on the ground. I knew my children were in danger and I shouted for help.” she narrated.
The neighbors, using bare hands, frantically struggled to remove the rubble and pull out the children. Unfortunately, four of them had suffocated to death. The older daughter–Colleta Nchagwa, a form two student at Kugisingisi secondary school–survived with minor injuries.
The deceased, John Magaiwa (15), Elizabeth Robi (13), Pauline Boke (10) and Vincent Mwita (5), were all pupils at Nyamekoma Primary school.
Ms. Mugusu has been struggling to come to terms with the painful reality of losing all her four children at once. However, to her, this tragedy has compounded the pain that has for so long defined her life. “I have been going through thick and thin to take care of children. Life has been hard and now with the tragedy, it has become unbearable,” she said.
She separated from her husband fifteen years ago after a tumultuous marriage that saw her sometimes being slashed.
“My marriage life was so painful. My husband could beat more often just because I had not borne him a baby boy,” she said.
The worst torture happened when she gave birth to the fourth girl. “On the day I gave birth, he took the baby and threw it out. He then hit me on my leg with an axe. I ended up in hospital with a broken leg few hours after giving birth. My baby went for four days without breastfeeding. It almost died. I left the home to go and fend for myself,”
She left her matrimonial home with her four daughters and moved to Isibania town, where she sold roasted maize on the roadside to raise her children. Her three daughters would get married at a tender age because of poverty.
She later moved back to Mabera eight years ago and rented a two roomed mud house along Motemorabu-Mabera road where she paid Sh1000 per month as rent. By this time she had got four more children with different men, all of whom abandoned her and neglected the kids. Ironically, she got two sons once she left her matrimonial home who sadly were amongst the four she lost.
She would work in people’s homes during the day, doing house chores and farm work, and then embark on selling roasted maize and githeri (mixture of beans and maize) in the evening. This is what she has been doing until the tragedy struck. “My children were the reason why I worked so hard in life. Their death has left a big void in my life that will not be filled,”
On the fateful day, she collapsed and ended up at Akidiva private hospital. The daughter, who survived the accident, was also admitted at the same hospital. She would be detained by the hospital for failing to settle a bill amounting to over Sh30,000. However, well-wishers, including Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, heard her cry and settled the bills.
On the eve of the burial, Ms. Mugusu was forced to run away to save her life as the former husband threatened to kill her. She did not attend the burial of her children. “It is very painful that besides losing my children, I was not there to witness their send off,” she said.
Her EX-husband and his people insisted on burying the deceased in order to benefit from the money the road company that owns the lorry that caused the accident was planning to give her as compensation for her loss. Besides, Nairobi governor Mike Sonko, who had earlier helped settle hospital and mortuary bill, had promised to assist the family and hence the people from her former husband’s place wanted to benefit from Sonko’s assistance.
“It is shameful that they wanted to take advantage of the death of my children to benefit themselves yet they do not know the pain I am going through due the huge loss,” she said.
Kuria West OCPD Mr Benson Kyalo has said that the police have taken the case and will take appropriate action.
Even as she battles to shake off the painful memories of the demise of her children, Ms Mugusu is also faced with the enormity and uncertainty of starting life all over again. She does not have a place to live and no source of livelihood. Her 17 year old daughter, Nchagwa, risks dropping out of school as she cannot afford paying her school fees.
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