The government of Kenya has a responsibility to compel the British government to identify the exact location where freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi was buried, Mau Mau war veterans have said.
Even though new details showing how Mr Kimathi was captured and later executed have been made public after court papers were recently repatriated back to Kenya, there still is uncertainty as to what was done with Mr Kimathi’s body after he was killed.
The records reveal that he was executed at “Her Majesty’s Prison”, now Kamiti Maximum Prison on February 18, 1957.
Whitehall, the executioner only filed a report in which he said: “I have the honour to inform you that I carried out the sentence of death upon Dedan Kimathi son of Wachiuri…” without further details of how he dealt with the body.
“We want the government of Britain to tell us the truth. Whitehall, the officer in charge of (now) Kamiti Maximum Prison knows where or what happened to his body, let them tell us. We just want to know the truth. So that we can give them a deserving send off and get closure,” said Mau Mau Association's Secretary General Gitu Wa Kahengeri.
It is not clear whether Kimathi’s body was buried or cremated.
According to the court records Sir Evelyn Baring who ordered his execution gave the executioner the discretion to bury or burn his body. The records only say the job was done but do not say the means used to get rid of the body.
“The current government needs to realize it is in power because the Mau Mau fought for the freedom we currently enjoy,” he added.
Mr George Morara, commissioner Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) added: “If we push they will tell us what they did with his body and where it is. Because they exercised a zealous record keeping regime.”
“There is something the British are hiding. But it is not the duty of the Mau Mau War Veterans to look for his body rather that of the government of Kenya. This is weighty matter that needs to be handled at the government to government level,” Paul Muite, a legal adviser to the Mau Mau Veterans' Association said.
The Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said they had information that there are 11 graves at Kamiti Maximum prison.
“I would like to ask the government to disinter the graves and conduct forensic examinations on the bodies in these graves so that if one of them is Kimathi’s then his wife can be given his body and the other bodies are identified and given a decent burial,” he said.
The plea was made at Freedom Square, Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on Monday where the CJ handed over Kimathi’s court file to the Mau Mau War veterans.
“This is a request we are making to both the British and our government. The British government must be in the know of where Kimathi was buried or what was done with his body. Because they are the ones who hung him. They must tell us where they took the body after executing him,” he said.
He added the process of looking for the bodies of Kimathi and others executed in the Mau Mau rebellion needed to be revived now that new information was beginning to come to light.
Other mass graves believed to contain remains of Mau Mau rebellion fighters are said to be in Hola and Chumvi hills in Eastern Kenya. The CJ said these need to be investigated and determination made on whose bodies lay in them.
“Those who know where the body is, need to come out and say and honour the beleaguered wife with a decent burial for her husband while she is still alive,” said George Kegoro Executive director of Kenya Human Rights Commission.
He said there was need to find justice for veterans whose land was misallocated.