A family in Kakamega County is in agony after their son was detained in unclear circumstances in Juba, South Sudan, a month ago. Steven Wekesa was expected to fly back home on November 13, but his family says they have not heard from him after he was reportedly arrested.
When the Nation team toured the family’s home in Likuyani on Monday, his parents and siblings were pondering their next move as they have not heard from their kin for the past one month.
“My brother has been working for the last 11 years in Juba for various companies and we have never heard of anything unusual,” said Steven’s younger brother Bernard Wekesa. “Up to now, we are still pleading with the government to help us know what is keeping my brother in Juba.” According to the family, the last they spoke with him was on November 12 when he assured them that he would be coming home for holidays.
“But at 11am when he was supposed to be in Nairobi, his phone remained switched off,” said his brother.
This prompted his family to call his friends back in Juba who confirmed that he had left for the airport.
The family claims that Steven’s colleagues told them that he was arrested by people claiming to be from “national security” and taken to a place called Blue House, a detention centre.
“We contacted his employer but he said he had no idea what had happened, but promised to look into the matter. He is yet to get back to us,” said Steven’s father Jotham Wekesa.
The family claims that Steven’s friend in Juba said he saw him in the cells.
“The friend told us that he was allowed to see him and he called us to confirm that Steven was indeed alive but that there is an investigation going on,” said the distraught father.
“He thereafter said that they were waiting for the director general to sign his release after investigations were completed but since then we’ve heard nothing,” he added.
The family has also contacted the Kenyan Embassy in Juba but no help has come.
“My son has been the sole provider to this family since I can remember. He has helped in making sure that his siblings have gone to school and that we have food on the table. He has also seen taking care of our medical bills as we are aged,” the father said.
Steven’s wife Vivian Ingaso said she is having a difficult time explaining the whereabouts of her husband to the children since they were expecting him.
“We were looking forward to meeting him at the airport when he comes home and it is saddening that he has not come,” she said. “I am appealing to the government to ensure my husband arrives home safe.” The couple has seven children.
The family says that since he started working in Juba 11 years ago, their son has never been on the wrong side of the law.
“We are very worried. We fear he is being mistreated where he is. His children need him,” said his mother Angeline Wekesa.
“He has worked since he was young in Nairobi and I have never heard of him being irresponsible. He has assisted us and he takes great care of his children,” added the mother.