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How we learnt of our children’s death through Facebook

The night Dorothy Stima died is permanently marked in her mother’s, Glady Stima, memory, not just because she lost her daughter but because of how she learnt about it.

For hours, she sat trying to figure out her next move in vain. Only tears rolled down her cheeks as she wailed the loss of her daughter.

Ms Stima learnt about the death of her daughter through social media. Dorothy is among university students who died in a road accident along the Kisii-Kilgoris highway.

Ms Stima said her son Vincent was busy on his phone and kept telling her about the horrific accident that had taken place at Etora in Kisii County.


“He even showed me photos of the accident and I was wondering what the students had come to do in Kisii. I did not know that my daughter was among the victims,” she said.

“Reality struck when my son received a call asking him if he knew the whereabouts of his sister, and the stranger went ahead to break the news that Dorothy was no more,” she said.

That is when they started taking a close look at the photos, searched for her in Facebook account where photos of Dorothy’s last moments were being shared.

Vincent Stima, Dorothy’s only brother, said it was like an online community was out to claim a stake in her death through slanderous comments, posts that profoundly misrepresented who she was and sanitised what had happened to her.


He added that he wished the people uploading the photos of the accident scene stopped because the images of how the sister lay in a pool of blood are very fresh in his mind.

Meanwhile, at Ogembo is another family in deep grief after losing their only son in the same accident.

Mr Mamboleo was sitting in his living room chatting on his phone when somebody posted the breaking news in a WhatsApp group.

He said that the post was just a normal alert, then horrific photos followed, little did he know that his son Dancan Nyairo was among the victims.

“I helped carry the bodies to a waiting ambulance as others tried to remove the trapped bodies from the vehicle. I also took some photos of the accident and decided to leave,” he said.

As soon as he was back in his car, he received a call that chilled his nerves.

“Someone then told me that he had seen my son in the accident. I got out of the car and moved back to the accident scene and indeed it was true,” he said.

It was through social media that the two families learnt about the deaths of their loved ones. Mr Mamboleo will live to curse social media all his life. He also thinks that its use can be regulated.

“If Dan survived the accident he would have lived to curse it as well. He could not contain the ugly scene and the mawkish tributes being poured on social media,” he said.

On the fateful day, social networking sites turned into a beehive of activity. The posts had sparked charades of statuses and pictures of the bodies of the dead students.

To Mercy Nyambeki, the only survivor that walked out of the Noah car that claimed lives of her seven friends, social media is a demon.


Ms Nyambeki says she had been killed on social media several times and at some point whilst lying on her bed she could read posts of how she was in a critical condition in ICU.

And Mrs Rachel Muthiga, who woke up on Thursday morning to news on social media that she had committed suicide because she could not bear the loss of her daughters.

Mnataka nini? Ama nyinyi pia mmekuja kuona kama nimejinyonga? (What do you want, or have you also come to see if I have killed myself?)” She told visiting journalists.

Social media has increased the speed and ease of communication to an unprecedented degree yet sites are sometimes poorly suited to convey grief messages.