Farmers lose millions in cow import fraud

Wednesday April 20 2016

Nduati Githere during an interview at Nation

Nduati Githere during an interview at Nation Centre on April 19,2016. He claimed that they were conned of their money by a group of individuals promising to buy cows from South Africa on their behalf and bring them to Kenya. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

By MARYANNE GICOBI
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At least 140 people say they have lost their hard-earned cash to a firm purporting to sell cows imported from South Africa.

Manilla Farm, a Nairobi based company, promised the farmers they would get cows which are seven months pregnant for Sh280,000.

It gave them the option of buying the Holstein Fresians on hire purchase by placing a deposit of Sh35,000 and paying a monthly premium of Sh8,000 for three years in addition to a Sh11,270 insurance fee for each cow, which was said to have a milk production capacity of 45 litres a day.

TOLD TO BE PATIENT

Those interviewed by the Daily Nation say they saw the advertisement in the local dailies from mid last year, paid for the pedigree cow in October last year but are yet to get the cows.

They said their efforts to get an explanation from Manilla Farm had been futile since they were always told to be patient.

“I even reported the matter to police, I wrote a statement, then was referred back to the office, which has been taking me round in circles,” Mr Nduati Githere, who says he had paid a deposit of Sh105,000 for three cows and an insurance fee for two at Sh22,540.
Central Police Criminal Investigations chief Zachary Nangulu said: “The matter has been reported to us. We are on top of things and we are tracking the farm’s bosses. We will make arrests soon.”

The Nation yesterday found the Manilla offices, next to the Meridian Hotel, locked. A security guard said the owners had recently packed up and moved, adding that he had witnessed a number of people breaking down at the gate after discovering they had lost their money.

Mr David Mwaniki from Kajiado said he paid a deposit of Sh121,000 for three cows and Sh35,000 for insurance, besides spending a further Sh200,000 on cow sheds made to Manilla Farm’s specifications.

PHONE LINES WERE SWITCHED OFF

Mr Lucas Oluoch from Siaya County said he had lost Sh92,500 while Ms Sarah Karimi from Karen said he had paid the farm Sh46,200 and spent Sh200,000 on construction.

They said they reported the matter to police who conducted a search which revealed that the Farm was registered under Emilio Kibui Mwangi.

They had tried to reach Mr Mwangi but both his mobile phone lines were switched off and he did not answer text messages, emails or Facebook messages, they said.

A simple search on Google showed that Mr Mwangi contested the Othaya Parliamentary seat in 2013 under the Farmers Party and lost to Mary Wambui, the current MP.

“It was an expensive exercise, an exercise in futility, it pains a lot,” said Mr Githere, who added that he had sold five cows to make room for the new ones.