Inside Prof Ogutu's family drama over autopsy

Wednesday March 18 2020
ogutu

Prof Gilbert Ogutu addressing elders from Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu counties at Ramogi Hills, Siaya County. He died on February 16, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DICKENS WASONGA

There was drama at the Bondo sub-county hospital mortuary on Monday evening before a post-mortem was done on the body of Prof Gilbert Ogutu Achieng as his family members engaged in a scuffle.

The tension between Prof Ogutu's relatives and his second wife Imelda Ogutu and her son Timothy Ogutu almost turned physical.

The confrontation at the mortuary at 7pm ended up delaying the process by almost half an hour.

When the procedure was finally done, government pathologist Dr Dickson Muchama said the autopsy results would be released in three weeks.

However, this did little to placate the situation between family members. More drama could be in the offing after the second wife said she will file a police report in a bid to have the relatives who caused the commotion ahead of the autopsy arrested.

"I have talked to the police who were present during the confrontation at the mortuary and I will make a report at the Bondo police station and record a statement over the same. I want them arrested," she said.

CONFRONTATION

Trouble began when the pathologist arrived a few minutes to 7pm and called the widow and the investigating officer for a meeting.

Prof Ogutu's relatives, led by Mr Kennedy Oduor, confronted the pathologist and Ogutu's wife, accusing them of sidelining the university lecturer's two daughters from his first wife.

"We are reading malice in this whole thing and we demand inclusivity in the process because we suspect foul play in the professor's death," he said

The family had been waiting for the pathologist since 3pm.

The long wait added to the suspicion and tension between the two sides of the family.

The process later kicked off after the pathologist allowed the two daughters, identified as Rachel Ogutu and Esther Ogutu, to be present during the process.

"This is now a government process because of the sudden and unclear circumstances under which the professor died. We are here so that everything is done professionally," the pathologist said before embarking on the autopsy that began some minutes past 7pm and went on until 10pm on Monday night.

Dr Muchama, while briefing journalists after the procedure, said he had done an extensive autopsy but his findings were inconclusive.

"I am still working closely with the police. I want them to provide some additional information. I will do further histology tests on the tissue samples so that I can have a final report which will be handed over to the police," he said.

He said there was crucial information that he needs to obtain from the police investigating the matter before releasing the final report to the family in three weeks' time.

He said there was ''nothing much'' by way of observation of the body and that is why further tests were necessary.

After the autopsy, the body was moved to the Aga Khan Hospital mortuary in Kisumu to await burial arrangements. The family, according to close relatives, was to begin burial preparation meetings from Tuesday.

SUSPECTED SUICIDE

Prof Ogutu's body was found in a kneeling position on Sunday morning by a worker with a piece of cloth tied to his neck and one end tied to the window in his bedroom in what police said was suspected suicide.

His wife said the family was shocked by the death of the 78-year-old professor. She said they had spent time together on Saturday evening.

According to her, the university don was fine at the time. They had travelled together to their Wambasa Village home on Friday.

"I left him relaxing on Saturday at around 7 pm and drove back to Kisumu ... I was shocked to receive a phone call from our long-serving domestic staff that he was dead," she said.

According to the widow, the professor had been ailing and was admitted on and off at various hospitals in Nairobi last year.

In November last year, for instance, Prof Ogutu was admitted for three weeks at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

He was battling diabetes and was discharged later but went on to have dialysis sessions which were done by Prof George Were.

He would also go for treatment of kidney issues at the university clinic, according to his wife.

According to the wife, Prof Ogutu had one of his kidneys removed in 2016.

She said the don did not leave behind any note.

SHOCKING SCENE

Prof Ogutu, who once served as the secretary-general of the Luo Council of Elders, was an Associate Professor of Church History at the University of Nairobi.

The sub-county police boss told the Nation that the worker found the don's body hanging by the window at around 9 am on Sunday.

According to the Chief of Central Yimbo Location, Mr Gordon Opundo, he had a leso tied around his neck and is suspected to have committed suicide.

The administrator told police that Prof Ogutu had come back home together with his second wife on Friday and they were at home until Saturday evening when she left for Kisumu.

He said that according to the worker, the professor was fine and did not seem to have any problem up to around midnight when he retired to bed, only for his lifeless body to be found the next day.

According to police, the worker had gone to wake the don up after warming water for him to take a bath, only to be greeted by the shocking scene.

He said the body had no visible injuries.