High Court Judge Samuel Ndung’u Mukunya, 67, was on Saturday buried at his Nyeri home as the Judiciary hit out at the police and National Transport and Safety Authority for doing little to curb road carnage.
Justice Mukunya, who died last week in a crash on Nyeri-Nyahururu road, was eulogised as an honest man and one of many judicial officers committed to clearing case backlogs.
Mukunya worked at the Environment and Lands Court in Kerugoya having been transferred from Bungoma in April, this year.
During the funeral service held at ACK’s St Peters Church in Nyeri town, the President of the Court of Appeal William Ouko called for measures to reduce road fatalities.
“There are too many people dying and there is little happening on changing of policies on roads. By August this year 1,800 people had died due to road accidents and the number is likely to be high by end of the year,” said Justice Ouko.
During the service which was attended by scores of judicial staff, among them judges, magistrates and lawyers, Mr Ouko accused the police and NTSA of not doing enough to save lives on the Kenyan roads.
Chief Justice David Maraga, on his part, eulogized Mukonya as a performer for clearing backlog of land cases in Kerugoya and Bungoma court stations.
“Land cases form the backlog and I promised to clear it before end of this year. I had earmarked Justice Mukunya for relocation to Nairobi for one month to clear the backlog there,” said the CJ Maraga.
He made the remarks after Kerugoya High Court presiding judge Lucy Gitari said for the three months Mukunya had worked in the local Lands court, he had cleared 178 cases. The cases had been in the court process for over five years.
“He encouraged mediation and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially those involving families,” said Ms Gitari.
Justice Gitari said Mukunya discouraged adjournment of cases and persuaded lawyers to comply with civil procedure rules to ensure expeditious disposal of cases.
“His motto was ‘Let us work. That is why we are here’,” said Justice Gitari.
The principal judge of the Environment and Land Court Samson Odhiambo Okong’io said the Mukunya cleared 85 per cent of the backlog cases in Bungoma land court, a feat he repeated in Kerugoya.
Other notable mourners present included Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, former Senator Mutahi Kagwe, National Cohesion and Integration Commission chair Francis ole Kaparo and MPs Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri town), Babu Owino (Eambakasi East) and Wambugu Munene (Kirinyaga Central).
Mukunya is survived by his wife Nancy Wanjiru and five children. He was appointed a judge in 2012 and served in Mombasa until September 2014 when he was transferred to Bungoma.
Prior to his appointment, Justice Mukunya practiced as an advocate but also served as a judge of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court (IICDRC) in 2010.
He was among five judges sitting in the dispute resolution court that allowed prisoners to take part in the 2010 constitutional referendum. Others in the panel were Justices Sankale ole Kantai, Scholastica Omondi, Jamila Mohammed and Mburugu M’Nkanata.
The judges’ decision followed a case filed by inmates against the electoral commission, challenging their exclusion from the process.