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Kenyan Catholic Diocese Facilitating Counselling Services to Bereaved after Bus Tragedy

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Kitui is facilitating counselling services at one of its Parishes following the Saturday, December 4 bus tragedy that claimed lives of at least 30 people, the Local Ordinary of the Diocese has said.

The counselling services are being offered at Good Shepherd Mwingi Parish where the ill-fated bus had come from, with members of St. Cecilia choir and flower girls aboard.

In an interview with Thome Radio of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui, Bishop Joseph Mwongela said counselling services were being offered to “all affected people” following the tragedy that involved St. Joseph Minor Seminary bus.

A video footage seen by ACI Africa shows the driver of the Seminary bus, later identified as Br. Stephen Kang'ethe, attempting to navigate a submerged bridge. The bus plunged into River Enziu, a seasonal river in Kitui County.

Two members of Brothers of St. Peter Claver, over 20 members of St. Cecilia choir, and some flower girls who were joining other wedding invitees at St. Joseph Nuu Parish of Kitui Diocese were among those who lost their lives.

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Bishop Mwongela expressed his solidarity with the “all the families which lost their loved ones in River Enziu tragedy on Saturday” during his interview with Thome Radio, a December 7 report on the Facebook page of Kitui Diocese indicates.

The Kenyan Bishop has “urged all Christians to continue praying for the affected to get spiritual strength at this trying moment”, the report authored by John Kivosyo says.

Bishop Mwongela is expected to preside over Requiem Mass on Thursday, December 9 at St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary of Kitui Diocese, the day his Priestly Anniversary was to be celebrated.

The Bishop’s Anniversary event has been postponed to December 20, the report indicates.

In his interview with Thome Radio, Bishop Mwongela reportedly “praised all the teams which worked closely to retrieve the bodies and the bus from the Enziu River”.

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The Bishop who has been at the helm of Kitui Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in August 2020 urged the Kenyan government “to fasten the construction of the Enziu Bridge as well as other roads which can cause such accidents.”

Br. Kang'ethe who was driving the bus and his confrere, Br. Kenneth Wanzala Okinda, were confirmed dead and their bodies retrieved from the river, multiple sources told ACI Africa about the two members of the Brothers of St. Peter Claver, a Machakos Diocese-based Religious Order that was founded by the first Archbishop of Nairobi Archdiocese, Archbishop John Joseph McCarthy.

The bus was destined to St. Joseph Nuu Parish where one of the brothers of Fr. Benson Kityambyu was solemnizing his marriage.

Fr. Kityambyu has lost 11 family members, a source told ACI Africa, explaining that as a Parish choir, members are expected to be drawn from the same Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and families; and some of the occupants of the bus were to play the role of flower girls at the Catholic ceremony.

Two daughters and two grandchildren of the couple receiving the sacrament of matrimony were among those who lost their lives in the Seminary bus tragedy.

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The bus was pulled from the river on December 5 evening by a crane and an excavator. 

Relatives of the deceased have been going to Mwingi Level 4 Hospital to identify the bodies of their kin and offering samples for DNA testing.