News and Views
Otafiire’s sugar, unfit for human consumption and destroyed in Mombasa
By Maureen Mudi
Mombasa: Sugar worth millions of shillings belonging to Maj. Gen Kahinda Otafiire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, has been destroyed at the Customs warehouse in Mombasa, under controversial circumstances.
While the sh34m consignment, whose value has since grown to sh100m, was being destroyed under the watchful eyes of several officials, Otafiire’s agents claimed the officials were in contempt of court.
Otafiire had moved to a Mombasa court claiming the sugar which was imported in 2007 by Semliki Mineral Resources Limited, was his as he had contributed, through his company, Arua Mercantile, to millions of shillings to ensure it was bought and shipped from Brazil.
There was tension at the warehouse after the first container of the sugar was destroyed by being mixed with sand and soil by officials of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), among others.
Otafiire’s lawyers Japheth Asige and Francis Mwakireti had earlier served the authorities with documents to confirm that despite a date for destruction being issued in court on December 16 last year, they had 30 days of stay, which meant that the consignment should not have been interfered with.
The sugar is being destroyed after Kebs claimed that it was unfit for human consumption, and Mumias Sugar Company, which had taken to court Semliki for transiting the sugar in the company’s gunny bags, infringing on its trademark.
It was argued that only the dates on the gunny bags seemed expired, but the sugar itself was intact.
On Wednesday, as the sugar was being destroyed, the lawyers claimed the stay, which was issued on December 16 last year, was to last up to February 22 this year.
“We had even given a notice of appeal against the ruling for destruction, and it was worth noting that from December 21 until January 13 were days to be exempted from the stay period, since under the new civil procedure rules, order 50 rule 4, that period is not computed.
It was claimed that despite the authorities being reminded, they had been in contempt of court since they have contravened court orders.
By press time, the second container had been opened for destruction, with the exercise being supervised by NEMA law enforcement officer Ben Wemali, among others.
The sugar was shipped to Kenya in 2007 and transported in 12,460 bags in 25 containers.
Otafiire has since claimed that Kenyan politicians are out to ‘steal’ the sugar from him and divert it to another market.