Court awards Kenneth Matiba Sh504m for his detention

Thursday August 17 2017

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Veteran politician and multiparty democracy crusader Kenneth Matiba has been awarded Sh504 million for his detention.

Although the 85-year-old former Kiharu MP will not regain his health, Justice Isaac Lenaola said, the award should act as a reminder of the dark days of the Nyayo era.

Mr Matiba was a founder member of the opposition party Ford that split into Ford-Kenya and Ford-Asili.

While he led the latter faction, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the late father of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, steered the other.

CABINET MINISTER

As one of the young Kenyans who joined the government at Independence, becoming a Permanent Secretary in his 20s, Mr Matiba rose to become a powerful Kanu-era Cabinet minister. But he would later fall out with President Daniel arap Moi after he was rigged out during the infamous Mlolongo (queue) voting system.

When they began agitating for multiparty democracy with Mr Charles Rubia, they were arrested and detained.

In his ruling, Justice Lenaola, now a judge of the Supreme Court, noted that Mr Matiba suffered a  stroke on May 26, 1991 but remained in detention without medication for a week.

But he ruled that the State foots only 20 per cent of the Sh4,726,332,042 Mr Matiba had sought for losses after his business crumbled.

Justice Lenaola said real justice can be expensive and the compensation is a lesson that such injustice should not be visited upon anyone.

BUSINESSES DETERIORATED

He however declined a claim by Mr Matiba for the refurbishment of one of his hotels, saying he was stretching his claims too far.

He nonetheless that the detention and the stroke affected the politician’s attention and focus in his businesses.

“Without him at the helm, the businesses deteriorated and some of them collapsed,” noted Justice Lenaola.

The judge awarded Mr Matiba Sh15 million as damages and for violations suffered, Sh18,146,631 for medical expenses and 471,664,258 for the financial losses incurred.

LOST INVESTMENTS

Mr Matiba argued that he lost investments worth Sh5 billion during detention, saying he personally managed his vast business interests, which suffered upon his arrest and detention by the Moi regime.

One of the witnesses in his case was a financial and investment analyst, Mr Lawrence Murigi, who explained that Mr Matiba had an illustrious career in politics and a flourishing business empire.

He said an audit of the empire showed he lost more than Sh2 billion in commercial real estate, Sh2 billion in privately held shares, Sh329 million in publicly trading shares and Sh210 million dividends.

Some of his firms, including a prestigious school, were auctioned and he sold a controlling stake at carbon dioxide manufacturer Carbacid.

Mr Matiba, who ran against President Moi in 1992, is among African pioneers in the tourism and hotel industry.