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No viewing of body, family only! Strict rules at Rita Waeni’s low-key funeral

The family of the late Rita Waeni buried her in Mukimwani village in Makueni County on February 5.

The funeral, attended only by close relatives, was closely guarded by armed police officers who kept shocked villagers at bay.

The strict rules set by the family were evident, with only those closely related to Waeni allowed to enter the venue.

A heavy police presence surrounded the gated estate to guard the family’s emphasis on privacy at this difficult time.

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The funeral, led by Pastor Fred Auma of Ridgeways Baptist Church in Nairobi, lasted two hours and began at 8 am. The atmosphere was one of hushed cries for justice, reflecting the grief and anguish felt by those close to the slain university student.

Lillian Mutea, an aunt of Waeni’s and spokesperson for the family, addressed the close friends and family through a WhatsApp group that had been used to organise the funeral.

She expressed gratitude for the support, contributions, and prayers from friends, colleagues, and fellow Kenyans.

“We are at peace knowing that our extended family understands this decision,” she said.

Waeni, a third-year student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), met a tragic end after meeting a man she had been communicating with on Instagram.

The family reported her missing on January 14 after she failed to return from meeting a friend in downtown Nairobi.

Family spokesperson Ms Mutea said they received a message demanding a ransom of Sh500,000 within 24 hours for Waeni’s release.

Also read: How Rita Waeni met her painful death

Despite reporting the matter to the police and the DCI, the family tragically did not get a chance to explore this avenue as she was found dead in an apartment on TRM Drive, and her head was discovered at Kiambaa Dam in Kiambu County.

The burial had been delayed for two weeks following the discovery, and detectives released Weni’s body to the family on Friday, February 2.

During the ceremony, a handful of mourners remembered the 20-year-old as a source of joy, intelligence, and kindness.

Her parents, Stephen Muendo and Dorcas Mwende, expressed their grief in a statement and cherished the memory of Waeni’s positive impact on those around her.

“Our daughter, Waeni, was an intelligent girl beyond her age. She was a spirited and caring individual known for her unwavering kindness, infectious laughter and the ability to light up any room she entered. We are saddened by the nature of her death but choose to forever cherish the countless memories of Waeni’s joyous presence and her dedication to making a positive impact on those around her. We thank God for the life we were able to have together,” the parents said in a statement.

This tragic event is the second death in the family this January, following the death of the family patriarch, Mzee William Mutea.

“Waeni was the highlight during the burial of her grandfather in early January. She is the one who read the eulogy,” a neighbour said on condition of anonymity.

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Many of the neighbours described Waeni as a staunch Christian who frequented AIC Mukimwani church without fail whenever she was in the countryside.

“She was a well behaved girl. When she joined the university she became a role model to our daughters,” a woman who requested not to be identified said.

Pauline Mutea, a grandmother to Waeni, said the slain woman held a special place in her heart.

“Waeni’s father is my firstborn and Waeni was his firstborn. Therefore Waeni was a very special grandchild. I am saddened to have to say goodbye to my oldest granddaughter Waeni whom I got to take care of as a baby,” she said.