x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Kenyans rally for assault victim in coma

Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba, 26, was punched to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head in a Crowne Plaza car park in the early hours of February 18.

DUBAI // The Kenyan community is rallying to help a woman who is in a coma after being punched to the ground and repeatedly kicked in the head outside a hotel.

Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba, 26, was attacked outside the Crowne Plaza on Sheikh Zayed Road early on February 18.

Penninah Nyokabi, a Kenyan who has been visiting her in Rashid Hospital every day since, said help had been given to fly Ms Mwikamba's mother and sister to the UAE.

"Kenya Airways provided the mother with a free ticket and she is being put up at a hotel in Deira owned by a Kenyan who is allowing her to stay for free," Ms Nyokabi said.

Ms Mwikamba's mother arrived in Dubai on Thursday and went straight to the hospital.

"She cried and spoke to her, even though she cannot hear anything," said Ms Nyokabi.

"She said, 'You are my eldest daughter and I will bring you back'. She has been praying continually for her health."

Ms Mwikamba has two sisters and a brother, but is the sole breadwinner for the family.

Mike Ogolla, the secretary of the Kenya Welfare Association, said the group was in talks with the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation to raise funds for the family.

"The money collected would go to supporting the family, as well as paying towards her hospital bills," Mr Ogolla said.

"Her mother does some small trade in Kenya and Esther is the only breadwinner in the family. We want to support them."

The Kenyan ambassador to the UAE, Mohammad Gello, said there had been overwhelming support for Ms Mwikamba.

"People sympathise with what happened to her," said Mr Gello. "It's really shocking."

He said there were 40,000 Kenyans in the UAE and they were all coming together to raise funds.

"The Kenyan community is closely knit,"Mr Gello said. "They have shown an intention to raise money, and we are doing it through the proper channels with the help of Kenya Welfare Association and the relevant authorities. There are many well-wishers who wants to donate and help her."

Police are holding an Emirati in connection with the assault on Ms Mwikamba, he said.

Mr Gello stressed the attack was an isolated incident and Kenyans need not worry about their safety.

frahman@thenational.ae