City Affairs

JKUAT student who went missing after protests died from drowning - autopsy

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Denzel Omondi's body was discovered on July 6 floating in the deserted quarry in Juja and was shared online, raising uproar and suspicion over his cause of death.

A 23-year-old university student who was found dumped in a deserted quarry in Juja died by drowning, an autopsy conducted on his body at General Kago Funeral Home has revealed.

The student, Denzel Onyango Omondi, was declared missing after he was allegedly abducted for participating in the anti-Finance Bill 2024 demonstrations.

At the time of his death, Denzel was a third-year Quantity Survey student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Juja, Kiambu County.

His family and human rights organisations that attended the procedure in Thika said the autopsy also revealed that he suffered bruises on the back of his head and legs.

His father, James Otieno, said the death of his son came as a shock to the family and hoped that justice would be served for him and all who have died in the protests. His mother, Jedidah Otieno, further called on the government to protect the rights of all Gen Zs, as they are fighting for the rights of all Kenyans.

"He was my firstborn child, with whom I had very high expectations. I wish to state that Denzel was an able boy if you check his academic history. He was a sharp fellow, so I don't see why he could not be left to complete his academics," said Mr. Otieno, who last spoke to his son on the morning of June 27 before his phone went off later in the day.

Denzel recorded himself protesting at the National Assembly on June 25 and would be later seen at the university the following day, only to disappear on June 27.

"I spoke to him on June 27, but his phone went off in the evening, and we thought he would call back. I came to learn of his disappearance later through a call from a person from home," added Mr. Otieno.

Police enhance security outside Parliament on June 18, 2024 during the anti-Finance Bill demonstrations. (Photo: Justine Ondieki/EV)

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton said Denzel Omondi's body was discovered on July 6 floating in the deserted quarry in Juja and was shared online, raising uproar and suspicion over his cause of death.

His friends and family questioned whether he could have died by suicide or slipped into the quarry, while others suspected he may have been killed elsewhere and dumped at the site.

Other reports added that Denzel's body was discovered by locals, who called the police to collect it.

"We demand a credible independent investigation to reveal and prosecute who abducted, killed, and dumped #OccupyCBD protester Denzel Omondi in a quarry to hide their crime," said Irungu Houghton.

Apollo Mboya, an advocate, revealed that the family will conduct further investigations to unravel the mystery of their kin's death, even as they called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to assist in the probe.

"We demand a credible investigation that is independent and thorough to reveal and prosecute whoever contributed to the death of Omondi," he said after the exercise.

At the same time, the management of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology appealed for calm as students planned to hold a peaceful demonstration at the institution's main gate following the incident.

"We wish to confirm that Denzel Omondi Onyango is a JKUAT student in the Department of Construction Management, College of Architecture and Building Sciences, and was not due for graduation since he was in his third year of study with pending exam issues from his second year of study," the statement read in part.

His death adds to the growing concerns over how security agencies respond to protesters in the country, following cases of abductions, killings, and forced disappearances of suspects, which the Interior Ministry has denied, noting that any police excesses will be probed and appropriate action taken on those found culpable.

Anti-riot police use tear gas to disperse protesters from the Nairobi central business district on June 18, 2024, during demos against the Finance Bill, 2024. (Photo: Hafsa Hassan/EV)

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