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Rongo varsity student buried in Busia amid outcry over mystery death

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Rongo University third- year student, Benjamin Barasa Oyakapel, aged 24, was last Friday buried at his father’s land at Awaata village, Amagoro Division, Busia County.

Barasa, a third-year Bachelor of Science student in Human Resource Management at Rongo University, went missing on 7th May, 2024, and his decomposing body, found two weeks later at Ruaka River in Kiambaa constituency.

The deceased elder sister Lorine Oyakapel, who travelled from Nakuru to Karuri upon receiving the news of her brother’s disappearance, told the press that there are more questions than answers surrounding her brother’s death.

Dennis Kaunya (centre) and his daughter Lorine Oyakapel during a press conference
Dennis Kaunya (centre) and his daughter Lorine Oyakapel during a press conference

Addressing the press last Saturday, a day after her brother’s burial, Lorine said the mystery surrounding his disappearance started on 7th May, 2024, when the search for his whereabouts was reported.

Lorine said Barasa, his cousin Joshua, and friend Amos left home on 7th May, 2024 to a local pub called Bar 69 to watch an English Premier League match until 11.47 pm, when they reportedly left for home. Outside the bar, they met a drunkard man who was lying on the road.

Joshua tried to attack the drunkard, but he was restrained by the deceased who told him not to get violent on drunkards, fearing that the man could be having his friends in the bar who might come to his rescue.

Lorine said Joshua obliged, and they agreed to go home. The drunkard man woke up and moved to the bar. Moments later, he came back with several of his friends. Fearing for their lives, the trio sough refuge in the nearby bush. They returned to the bar, thinking they had left.

However, as Joshua left, he tried to look back but could not see his brother Benjamin. He arrived home minus his brother with Amos, also arriving moments later.

At 12.30am, the deceased allegedly knocked at the door of his female friend by the nick-name Shi, but she could not open, saying she was too tired.

“It was a normal tradition for Benjamin to knock on Shi’s door, as he left his usual place of work at Twisted Club on his way home,” says Lorine.

Near the home of his brother Kaunya, Benjamin’s sleepers were recovered along the road. At 2am, a lady who lives nearby said she heard someone calling “Benjamin, Benjamin”.

Lorine expressed frustrations in efforts to seek justice for his brother and appealed to the government to intervene, adding that postmortem results showed no cause of death, claiming all organs were destroyed.

The late Benjamin, an upcoming poet who occasionally performed at the National Theatre, Nairobi, under the stage-name “Generic1990” was buried last Friday on his father’s farm in Awaata village, Amagoro Division, Busia County.

The deceased father, Dennis Kaunya, the brother to Teso North MP Oku Kaunya, said he arrived in Kiambaa on 9th May, 2024 where he reported the case at Karuri police station.

Kaunya said the matter took two weeks until 20th May, 2024, when the case was transferred to Kiambaa DCIO Christopher Wambua. He launched the case by interrogating the suspects, adding that he also testified on how his son disappeared.

Kaunya said that he received a call from an anonymous person who introduced himself as Inspector Mbugua. He also gave him a number of the person who was a doctor attending to his son at Kituyi West Hospital.

“IP Mbugua asked me to send him Ksh. 6000 to enable him transfer his son to Nairobi. I send Ksh. 3000, Ksh. 2000, and Ksh. 1000. He later changed his mind that I travel to Kijabe and book an ICU, which I complied,” he said.

Kaunya said he stayed at Kijabe hospital the whole night until the following morning, but in vain, adding that the phones of the two persons who had given his number were switched off.

Kaunya aged 52 said the manager of Twisted Club, where Benjamin worked as a steward called him on 23rd May, 2024, to the effect that the body of a man has been found at Ruaka River and it had been moved to the City mortuary.

He followed them to the mortuary, where he identified the body to be that of his son. The postmortem was conducted on 28th May, 2024, and transferred to Lifecare Hospital Bungoma.

The family now wants the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome to intervene and apprehend his killers.

Kunya said his son, who was staying with a relative while on holiday, may have been killed after he received some cash payment, probably from tik-tok . Kaunya claimed that efforts to seek help from Karuri DCI’s office have been futile.

Growing up, Benjamin was always passionate about arts, writing, and painting, with writing taking the better part of him. His poetic journey started way back at Chesamis, which he joined from Kakoli Primary School, where he excelled in KCPE.

When he joined Rongo University under the mentorship of Shamokwale Poetry Empire, his poetic journey took a whole new great turn, which opened doors for him to perform in various events, including NACADA, African Ink Publishers and National Theatre.

Kennedy Epalat
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