In Summary
  • The family now wants the government to intervene and help Ndung’u get necessary treatment to remove the remaining metallic substances in his body.
  • But SOI Commandant John Warioba denied claims of military abandoning live explosives, saying soldiers do not fire bombs while training in the area but only fire small arms (rifles).

What had started as just bad day for John Ndung’u after being sent away from school for arriving late turned tragic when an explosive device belonging to a scrap metal dealer who had visited his home exploded.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot while Ngung'u was left with painful scars that have affected his education.

The 19-year-old teenager recounts how, on the fateful day in 2010, he woke up, took breakfast and bid his father, mother and siblings’ good bye and rushed to school since he was late. By then he was a standard four pupil at Elsa Ntirim Primary School.

The family lived in Elsa Ntirim, a village in Isiolo which borders Meru County.

The boy, the seventh born in a family of nine, while at school, was sent back home since he was late.

“I then rushed back home after I was sent back for arriving a bit late,” he recalls.

He did not know that would be the last time he saw his father alive.

SCRAP METAL TRADE

When he got home at around 9am, Ndung’u found a scrap metal dealer in their compound. He wanted to buy scrap metals. His father, mother and four siblings were outside.

The innocent scrap dealer was carrying some scrap items, one of which was an explosive. He might have collected it from the nearby military training ground, probably left behind by soldiers from the School of Infantry (SOI) in Burat ward, Isiolo County.

His mother had gone to their store to collect some metallic containers for sale.

“The dealer innocently hit one of the metals he had collected, and it exploded. I blacked out,” the 19-year-old recalls.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot. The explosion prompted the soldiers, whose camp is nearby, to rush to the scene. According to Ms Nyaruai, they collected the pieces of the explosive and left without a word.

HOSPITALISED

Her mother rushed him to hospital and, days later, she buried her beloved husband in their compound.

Ndung’u, now a form one student at Tumbori Secondary School in Meru County, was hospitalised at Isiolo Referral Hospital and was in a comma for two months.

Ms Ann Nyaruai, his mother, 64, insists that Ndung’u, then aged 10, was a very energetic and determined boy who had bought himself two rabbits which multiplied to 150.

From the day of the explosion, Ndungu’s life changed. His health was affected and he is still suffering 10 years down the line.

He woke up from the two-month comma and stayed in the hospital for a while. The family had not broken news that his father had died. After being discharged from the hospital and shortly after arriving home, he spotted a grave in their compound.

“That is when I gathered courage and told my son that his father had died from the explosion. He was devastated,” said his mother.

COMPENSATION

Now, the 19-year-old says he is still psychologically traumatised. He sometimes misses school due to lack of fees and poor health.

He suffers from fatigue, chest and limb pains. He is also unable to walk for long distances.

“There are times when I stay at home for two weeks, missing school because I’m sick. But I thank God I survived the explosion,” he adds.

The family now wants the government to intervene and help Ndung’u get necessary treatment to remove the remaining metallic substances in his body. They also want to be compensated.

Ms Nyaruai’s effort to seek redress from military officials at the camp proved futile. She claims she was chased away by soldiers manning the gate when she went to ask help from the army to settle her son’s hospital bill.

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