Tob Cohen's burial pushed to Tuesday over priest hitch

Wednesday March 18 2020

Men digging the late Tob Cohen's grave at the Jewish Cemetery on September 23, 2019. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The body of the late Dutch businessman Tob Cohen will be interred Tuesday afternoon after the ceremony failed to kick off Monday due to a priests’ quorum hitch.

Lawyers representing the deceased’s family - Mr Danstan Omari and Mr Cliff Ombeta - explained that Mr Cohen was a man of high religious standing in the Jewish community, thus his burial will be presided over by a team of 10 rabbi.

“The name Cohen means priest; it is a title in Jewish religious circles. This means that the rites performed are also special. Each priest will recite a certain verse during the ceremony and they all have to be present to make the ceremony complete. The anomaly that led to the postponement was occasioned by religious practices,” explained Mr Omari.

Mr Ombetta sought to allay fears that the postponement was a ploy to bury the deceased in secret and deny his estranged widow and suspect in his murder, Ms Sarah Wairimu, an opportunity to bury her husband.


He said the burial preparations team had by Monday afternoon managed to get hold of two more rabbis who had confirmed their availability for the ceremony.


“There will be a burial tomorrow. I want to assure Mr (Phillip) Murgor my senior that nothing is going to happen tonight. We have two priests coming in: one is from Kisumu and the other from Mombasa,” said Mr Ombeta.

The ceremony will kick off at the Chiromo mortuary where the priests will perform some rites on the body before it is transported to the Jewish cemetery on Wangari Maathai Road for internment.


Mr Murgor, Ms Sarah’s lawyer, agreed with the arrangement and said that he will go to court to obtain permission for his client to attend the burial.

“We have to wait until tomorrow. We are sorry for the inconvenience but sometimes when fate comes in, we cannot override it. That is the position we hold. We will be seeking a variation of the order,” said Mr Murgor.

“We hope the family will abide by their word and not bury her husband at night, because that will matter to Sarah. We came here together; we agreed to do this together, so let us wind this up together,” Mr Murgor urged Cohen’s family.

Her presence at the cemetery attracted curious onlookers who peeped through the fence to try and get a glimpse of her, but she was kept under close guard by armed regular police and officers from the Lang’ata Women’s Prison.