A year after two sons of slain tycoon Ibrahim Akasha were extradited to the US, the lives of the prominent family have drastically changed.
Mrs Fatma Akasha, the widow of the slain tycoon who was accused of being a drug baron, said relatives, friends and close allies have deserted them and it is a daily struggle to care for the family.
The family expressed disappointment over people they once called “close allies”.
“We are now on our own. All those who pretended to be friends of my sons are nowhere to be seen. We have no one to support or console us during these hard times,” she says.
Tears flow freely from the eyes of the 62-year-old woman who has been suffering from high blood pressure since her two sons were deported to the US in 2017.
She speaks fondly of her two sons, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha, who are being held in New York, and says she cries to heal her wounds.
“We have been left with deep incurable wounds and gaps that no one can heal and fill. I am pained as a mother, not being able to see my two sons who are rotting in a foreign jail,” she tells the Nation during an interview.
Her sons, together with a Pakistani national Ghulam Hussein and an Indian national Vijaygiri Goswami, were extradited to the US in January 2017.
They are facing charges of conspiring to smuggle 98 kilogrammes of heroin into the United States from Kenya. The four suspects could be sentenced to life in prison in the US if convicted on the charges.
The two brothers are also facing new charges of bribing Kenyan officials and brandishing guns while carrying out their alleged crimes.
Baktash and Ibrahim were the breadwinners of the family, their mother says.
“They are the only people who could unburden me of my sufferings.”
Mrs Akasha and her three daughters look after the family, including the children of the accused brothers.
The two men left behind 12 children – Baktash has eight and Ibrahim four.
“How are we supposed to look after all these children? It is a burden that my daughters and I carry. A man is the head of a family but for us we have been forced to play that role since there is no man amongst us,” the widow says.
Mrs Akasha says some of the children fight endlessly with their schoolmates who call them ‘names’.
“The whole thing is affecting all of us as a family. It has also involved the innocent children. Only God knows what we are going through,” she says as she weeps uncontrollably.
Her daughters, who accompanied her for the interview, say she often cries.
A relative who spoke on condition of anonymity says it has been difficult for the family to see the detained brothers.
“Last year we applied for a letter to go see them but we were frustrated by the long processes that we were taken through.
“It took me three months before I could be allowed by the relevant authorities. I later succeeded and saw them,” she says.
When she visited them in prison, the two complained of unfriendly conditions they were put under at the facility, she adds.
However, when they appeared before the US court in January this year for the new charges, both Akasha brothers seemed to be in good health and showed no visible signs of depression.
The relative however said: “A prison is a prison. You cannot tell me they are in good health in such a facility. If we are pained by missing them then that is exactly what they are also feeling.”
The family pleaded with the Kenyan government to intervene and allow the brothers to face trial in Kenya, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“I am appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to our help. Let him see the pain that I am going through as a Kenyan and assist me. My sons are Kenyans and if they have committed any offences let them be tried here,” says Mrs Akasha.
She has faith her sons are innocent and would return to the country if the Kenyan government intervenes.
“I will not stop praying. My God will never let me down. I am longing for a day when I will see my sons at the doorstep of my house. My faith on this will never go in vain,” she adds.