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Family of the kidnapped soldier cry foul, accuse KDF, State of neglect

Rose Kigen Kangogo displays husband’s portrait in Elgeyo-Marakwet. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

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There is calm as we enter the home of Kenya Defence Forces Private Jonathan Kangongo in Kapteren village, Elgeyo/Marakwet County.

Mr Kangongo has been in the army until about two years ago, when he was kidnapped, among others, by the Al Shabaab militia.

The group claims it has executed him, though this has not been confirmed. And as The Standard On Sunday crew reached the homestead, there was no warmth. The soldier’s wife, Rose Kangongo, had just attended a burial of a neighbour.

Even though news of the alleged execution had reached many, surprisingly, Mrs Kangongo is not aware. We gather courage and comforting words to break the news. Nevertheless, the calm woman, strong in heart like a soldier, takes in the news in her stride.

“We had expected the good and worse. God has been comforting us all this time. Let His will be done,” she asserts.

Turn of events

But even as she tries to take in the turn of events since the disappearance of her loving husband on July 23, 2010, Mrs Kangongo has some strong sense of hope that her husband would return home.

She says she had communicated to him the previous day while he was still in Wajir and agreed he would call back the following day, which did not happen.

“When I tried calling the following day, his phone was switched off and I was expecting his call later, but this never happened,” she recalls.

She adds: “The last time I talked to him in 2010, he told me he was in Wajir delivering relief food for the Kenya for Kenyans initiative. Since then, I have never heard from him, a man who could call me four to six times a day.”

However, Mrs Kangongo is not happy with the way the Government is handling the situation. After the husband was kidnapped, she went to Kahawa Barracks where he was based to seek information.

“I went to the KDF immediately if in any case they could help me in any way to educate my children, but to no avail. They failed to listen to me. I have done several fundraisers to educate my three children,” she says.

She says she been keenly following the events by the militia with the latest development being the release of photos belonging to the captives, her husband included.

“I have been watching the news on threats that Al Shabaab have been issuing to the Government. I was expecting to see my husband released on Valentine’s Day, but that never happened,” she says.

The mother of three shows us a picture released by the militia, downloaded it from the Internet and used it as her phone’s screensaver. She saw the husband on television on January 24, when the group issued threats to execute the five if the Government fails to heed their demands.

“I immediately downloaded the photo when I saw him on TV. His health has deteriorated because he was a huge and strong man,” she says.

And as we break the sad news, her children break into tears as the strong woman comes to terms with the turn of events. She appears composed, but insists the Government did little to help or even rescue her husband and the other five captives.

“If Colonel Oguna clearly said the Government will not negotiate with Al Shabaab, what else can I do?” she posses.

She adds: “If they have killed him, we have to accept the situation because we cannot change anything. His blood will be in the hands of the Government because he was captured serving Kenya.”

15 years in service

She says her husband had worked for the military for 15 years, serving selflessly.

“He served this nation selflessly and if he has died in the line of duty, we only trust in God,” she says.

Mrs Kangongo says she would not be happy to see any official from the Government in her compound because they have never bothered since her husband’s disappearance.

“If KDF are planning to come and inform me of my husband’s execution they should know I do not want to see any of them here,” she says.

Recently, according to the militias in their official Twitter, they threatened to revenge after Kenya attacked them in the Linda Nchi operation.

They threatened to ensure Kenya regretted after it decided to attack the militia group. So far, the group has kidnapped Kenyans.

The militants linked to Al-Qaeda say they have executed the soldier on Thursday midnight after the expiry of the ultimatum for the release of the Muslims held by Kenya on terror charges.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) attack in Somalia started in October last year to secure its boundary from attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab militants controlling most of Southern Somalia. President Mwai Kibaki approved the attack on the insurgents. President Kibaki has said KDF would remain in Somalia until peace and security prevailed.

In retaliation, the rag tag group has in several occasions staged isolated grenade attacks in different towns in the country, leaving residents in fear.

Some of the towns that have been attacked are Nairobi, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Mombasa.


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