The bereaved wife of a man who died following a stampede during the issuance of bursary forms at Githurai 45 in Ruiru, Kiambu County on Monday has faulted the area MP for failing to put up proper structures that could have avoided the tragedy.
James Atanga Sagwe, a father of two, was among thousands of bursary seekers who turned up at the district officer’s office in Githurai 45, hoping to collect a school fees bursary form for his son Andrew Asa, a Form Four student at Kabianga High School.
Ruiru Member of Parliament Simon King’ara, who was personally issuing the forms, had over the last week called on residents to turn up in numbers to grab the limited forms.
The deceased Sagwe arrived early morning and was allocated ticket number 783.
An eyewitness said a scramble broke out, with desperate parents pushing and shoving each other to get the forms.
Unfortunately, Sagwe was knocked down and trampled by the crowd. He was rushed to a nearby hospital then transferred to Kenyatta University Hospital for specialised treatment but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
At least 30 others were injured in the stampede and rushed to hospitals.
Speaking at Kenyatta University Funeral Home where Sagwe’s body was moved, his wife Pamela Munyangi Atanga mourned her husband saying he died trying to be a good father.
“The last time I saw my husband was Monday morning when he left the house for Githurai 45. He received a call from a friend who asked him to go and collect a bursary form to secure the bursary forms for our two children, hoping they would subsequently get a bursary allocation of Sh7,000 from our MP Simon King’ara. Unfortunately, the crowd was too big and impatient and started pushing each other, scrambling for the bursary forms. My husband fell and succumbed from the stampede,” Pamela told reporters.
She said the deceased was a bodaboda rider who barely earned enough to afford school fees for their children. Their other child, Deborah Moraa, is a fourth-year student at Masinde Muliro University.
“He meant well for his family. He paid the price for trying to be a good father for his two children because what he was making a day as a boda boda rider could not sustain us and pay the school fees for the children,” the wife said.
Ms Atanga criticized the bursary issuance process, saying the area MP could have done better in managing the desperate crowd.
“The area member of Parliament( Simon King’ara) has turned the issuing of bursary forms into what looks like a political rally to cement his political base without considering the risks that he is exposing poor people to. But because we are poor and vulnerable, we have no choice but to troop to the venue he sets for the issuing of bursary forms. It is sad though,” she said.
Elias Sawe, a relative of the deceased, echoed Ms Atanga’s sentiments, saying: “At the moment we know the economy is bad. If you call people to give them bursaries, they will come in numbers. The MP should have known that and made proper arrangements on managing large crowds, my uncle should not have died.”
The Ruiru MP did not respond to calls from the media about the incident.