‘Maranda High sent my son home for fees, I found his body by mortuary gate’
Tuesday, April 04, 2023. Master Protus Mogaka who died in an accident at Amabuko along Kisii – Keroka road on Saturday.
A family from Gesima in Nyamira county is mourning their son who died in an accident as he travelled home from Maranda High School after he was sent home for fees.
The student was among five passengers killed in a grisly accident at Amabuko on the Kisii-Keroka road on Saturday night.
Protus Mogaka and the other four passengers died when their 14-seater matatu collided head-on with a trailer at Amabuko, a few metres from Keroka town, in Kisii County.
The accident occurred when the driver of the matatu tried to avoid hitting a motorcyclist.
Parents of the 17-year-old boy said the school had not told them they were sending their son home for fees and they now want the Ministry of Education to take up the matter.
In February this year, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said no learner should be sent home for lack of school fees.
Protus was easily identified because he was in school uniform. Within no time, dozens of phone calls went to his parents’ phones.
His parents, who work at Nyansiongo centre as Jua Kali artisans are well known in the region, and it was easy for people to reach out to them.
Mr Julius Mogaka said he was shocked when an unknown caller asked him to rush to Amabuko and check whether it was his son who had been in an accident.
“It was at around 7pm. The caller then told me to go to Gucha sub county hospital where the accident survivors had been taken. When I got to Gucha, I found my son’s body abandoned near the mortuary gate, I became confused and started wailing,” said Mr Mogaka.
He said police officers put him in their vehicle as others kept watch because they were uncomfortable with how he was behaving.
“More of my relatives came and we went back to the mortuary to verify if it was indeed my son. As we headed home after learning that there was nothing we could do, my son’s class teacher texted me asking whether the boy had arrived home,” said Mr Mogaka.
A message seen bythe Nation from the class teacher to the distraught parent read, “Good evening, has Brotas (Protus) come home?”The message was sent at 10.07pm.
“The teacher didn’t even call, he texted. How was he even asking about my child, yet he had not informed me that he had sent him home? He later called after I texted him back that my son was dead. He told me that he had sent my son home for fees and was enquiring whether he had arrived home. I asked him how he sent my son home without informing me, and that he was now dead. He hung up the phone,” said the father of three.
Protus was his first-born and he had hoped that he would finish his secondary school, pursue higher education and improve his life and those of his siblings.
“He was only a few months away from being a candidate. I had so much hope in him. He was a bright child,” said Mr Mogaka.Protus had just returned to school after burying his grandfather.
“You see that grave is still fresh. Because of my father’s burial and generally difficulties in getting money, I had difficulties raising school fees. He returned to school minus fees, but after two days, I sent Sh30,000 to the school. I had a balance of Sh7,000 from the previous term and I had endeavoured to reduce it by paying gradually,” he said.
Mr Mogaka noted that he thought his son would be safe in school now that he had lessened the school fees burden.
“I thought my son was in school as usual, but on Saturday, he called me, telling me he had been chased from school. What shocked me is that the school had not called to inform me, like they do at other times. I am wondering why they sent children home on a weekend? I am wondering why they did not check whether the students had fare to travel home, they just chased him,” said the tearful father.
He said his son borrowed a phone from a trader and called him on Saturday at 2pm, to tell him he had been sent home.
“He informed me that my son walked from school to Bondo and later boarded a matatu to Kisumu with the little money he had. While in Kisumu, he called using another trader’s number and asked me to send him Sh500 to enable him reach Kisii town. I sent him and that was the last time we talked,” he said.Protus’ mother was besides herself with grief and could not speak with the media.
His cousin Eric Ong’au said the family is wondering how a big school such as Maranda failed to follow protocol while sending children home for school fees.
“Even his fare home was a problem. Imagine a whole Sh1,500 was used from his transport from school. Why were they also sending students home on a weekend?” said Protus’ aunt, Ms Dinah Kemuma.
She added that her nephew would not have died had there been communication between the parents and the school.
She said the family is keen to follow up on what they see as neglect of their son by the school so that no more lives are lost in future
At the time the Nation visited Mr Mogaka, a teacher called him to ask about burial plans.
He condoled with the bereaved father and agreed that the school should have told him it was sending the boy home for fees.
“The principal asked me to call you and enquire whether you have set aside the burial date so that we can see how to help,” said the teacher, who also enquired whether a post-mortem had been done.