Morticians demand respect, NTSA denies claims of morgues punishment


Morticians are displeased with claims that NTSA wants those found drunk-driving to work as mortuary attendants as punishment.

This was reported on Monday and director general Francis Meja quoted as saying: “We cannot have notorious drunk drivers causing accidents yet when they appear in court the penalty is very lenient. Once we have the new policy ready then we shall ensure it becomes law.”

Ezra Olack, chairman of the National Funeral Services Association of Kenya, said the reports of this kind of punishment must have been a joke.

“Stop demeaning our profession. The work we do is very important,” he told The Star in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We have codes of ethics and conduct that all our staff have to abide by. This is not something we do while abusing substances.”

NTSA’s data shows 2,496 people died between January and November 19, many being pedestrians who numbered 941.

Olack said the authority should consider increasing the fine instead of subjecting people to the job against their will. Those found driving under the influence of alcohol are usually charged under the Traffic Act and pay a fine of up to Sh40,000.

“We are not going to allow people to come and ruin our profession. The person who said that must have been joking. But if he was not joking, those who will be told to work in funeral homes can sue him,” Olak said.

Persons who work in mortuaries are often stigmatised for the work they do yet it is a profession like any other.

 “People think mortuary attendants are rejects and drug addicts. People go to school and learn how to take care of dead bodies,” the chairman said.

Morticians receive bodies in funeral homes, preserve and prepare them for burial or cremation. They also help the bereaved to acquire certificates of death.

“One has to be trained on all this. If we allowed any Tom, Dick and Harry to do it, many families would be receiving their loved ones’ bodies in bad condition.”

The organisation wants Parliament to come up with a law that will help streamline the sector. Of interest will be the training of morticians across the country, regulating and licensing funeral homes and coming up with standards of how hearses should look.

Reached for clarification, Meja said he was misquoted.

“Countries that have high accident numbers have taken drastic measures including making those found guilty of drunk-driving work in morgues,” he told The Star on phone.

He said they want to amend laws so those found committing the offences have their licences suspended for six months.

“This will serve as a lesson to others. Increasing fines will not solve the problem because the highest limit is Sh40,000

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