Venezuela diplomat killed in Nairobi

Friday July 27 2012

A police officer outside the residence of Venezuelan ambassador to Kenya in Runda, Nairobi, July 27, 2012. The ambassador was found strangled in her house. STEPHEN MUDIARI

A police officer outside the residence of Venezuelan ambassador to Kenya in Runda, Nairobi, July 27, 2012. The ambassador was found strangled in her house. STEPHEN MUDIARI  

By ZADOCK ANGIRA and OLIVER MATHENGE

A foreign diplomat attached to Kenya has been found dead at her residence in Nairobi Friday.

The Charge de'affaires Olga Fonseca at the Venezuelan Embassy in Nairobi was found strangled in her Runda home, Nairobi police boss Anthony Kibuchi told reporters.

She was the acting Venezuela ambassador to Kenya.

Mr Kibuchi said police were holding four domestic workers.

They were transferred to the Gigiri Police Station to help with investigations, he said.

Mr Kibuchi said an autopsy will be done at the scene of crime.

Last Friday, the Nation learnt that the Kenyan staff at the Venezuela embassy residence in Nairobi had complained to Diplomatic Police Unit in Gigiri over alleged dismissal by the new envoy.

Talking to the Nation at the Runda residence at the weekend, the staff said the envoy, who arrived last week, had told them to vacate the premises.

Sexual harassment

The employees have complained that Ms Fonseca fired them after they refused to retract sexual harassment claims against former ambassador Gerarto da Silva.

Two male employees had on April 23, through a complaint booked at Gigiri Diplomatic Police Unit and referenced as number 34, accused the former envoy of sexual impropriety.

Mr da Silva unceremoniously left the country in May but the employees claimed he wanted to force them into unnatural sexual acts.

“She came and forced us to apologise and say the claims that the former consular of Venezuela embassy, who was accused of sexual harassment of the staff, were all lies, and that we write an apology that we fabricated the story,” the staff say in the complaint seen by the Nation and dated July 20.

The employees who have signed the complaints are Kevin Akodhe, Leonida Khatenje, Angelina Mwelewe, Zipporah Khabukwi and Francis Mwangi.

The sexual harassment claims have attracted the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which after learning of the issue earlier this month, wrote to the employees’ lawyer, Ngure Mbugua, saying that they were launching “independent investigations.”

On Tuesday, Ms Fonseca sacked the five Kenyans for “insubordination” which led their lawyers to make a complaint with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The five had that morning been called to a meeting with Ms Fonseca to address the conflict that arose from the employees’ decision to file asexual harassment complaint with the Diplomatic Police.

“They have been fired because they refused to retract the complaint. The new Charge d’affaires has said they cannot continue working at the embassy because they have shown insubordination,” said their lawyer Ngure Mbugua.

“There is no way they can withdraw the complaint because that would amount to self-incrimination. They would appear to have given the police false information.”

On Wednesday, the Embassy’s Assistant Administrator Jose Rabell refused to explain the circumstances under which the five had been sacked.

“We will not be able to respond to you as we are currently administratively handling the matter. However, we reiterate that the Embassy and its Charge d’affaires reserve the right to terminate the employment of local staff and we are in the process of doing the same,” he said.