Who killed our daughter? Sheila Lumumba’s parents speak on their daughter’s murder

  • The 25-year-old who identifies as a lesbian had been hit on the head with a blunt object, and stabbed in the chest, face, neck and eyes. 
  • According to Sheila’s father, Sheila did not disclose her sexual orientation to them because she thought such news would shame the family.

On April 17, 2022, Sheila Athiambo Lumumba was found murdered in cold blood and naked in her bedroom in Karatina.

The 25-year-old who identifies as a lesbian had been hit on the head with a blunt object, and stabbed in the chest, face, neck and eyes. This is according to the post-mortem report conducted at Karatina Sub-county Hospital.

The gruesome murder started an online debate about LGBTQ rights in Kenya with Rights groups calling on authorities to investigate Sheila’s murder which sparked the trending hashtag #JusticeForSheila.

In an interview with Citizen Digital, Millicent Lumumba -- Sheila’s grieving mother -- stated that her daughter did not deserve such a gruesome death in the hands of her heartless killers.

“The news of my daughter’s death broke my heart, at first we were told that our daughter was missing, we got to confirm her death three days later. The postmortem result showed my daughter had been sexually abused and stabbed multiple times. I cannot imagine the pain my daughter went through before she died,” she said.

“As a family, we are yet to accept that our daughter is gone. She was a strong girl and she never imagined something bad could ever happen to her,” she added.

Although her parents say they were not aware of their daughter's sexual orientation, Sheila identified as a queer to her close friends and the LBGTQ to her friends and the LGBTQ circle.

According to Sheila’s father, Sheila did not disclose her sexual orientation to them because she thought such news would shame the family.

“Sheila never came out to us and shared her sexual orientation with us.  But when she was in high school, her teacher called me to school and informed me that there were speculations that my daughter was a lesbian. I refuted the claims strongly; I could not believe it then,” said John Lumumba. 

As the investigation on Sheila’s Murder continue, the family exudes confidence that justice will be served.  Lumumba disclosed that her daughter had complained about a particular colleague who threatened her.

“Sheila had earlier on complained some of her colleagues were giving her a hard time, and they were eventually let go. When one of them threatened her, she reported the matter to the police and the young man was called in for questioning, “he explained.

At the time of her death, Sheila worked as a supervisor at a hotel in Karatina, Nyeri. To her father, Sheila was a reserved and quiet individual but also a jovial person that you would love to be around them.

"My daughter worked hard to be able to support herself,It was her desire to support us as well. She was hardworking and had a bright future, at her age she had managed to raise to the ranks of a supervisor. She was born a leader," he recalled. 

Soon after her death,  LGBTQ and LGBTQ-supporting Kenyans took to social media to highlight the discrimination the group faces. The hashtag #JusticeForSheila gained momentum on the Kenyan Twitter

Human rights activist Njeri wa Migwi on her Facebook page said she had spoken to Lumumba's best friend: "We cried together," she posted on Facebook.

"Your life mattered Sheila. Sheila Don't rest." Ms Migwi continued.

In 2019, Kenya's High Court ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex, which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Rights' groups like NGLHRC have historically warned that it gives rise to a climate of homophobia.

Tags:

Citizen TV Citizen Digital LGBTQ Citizen Kenya Sheila Lumumba

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