Kyanguli parents to get Sh41m

Friday March 4 2016

Mr Benjamin Mutune (right), Chairman of Kyanguli Secondary School bereaved parents with members, addresses journalists at Milimani court. Right: A parent breaks down after the ruling. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Benjamin Mutune (right), Chairman of Kyanguli Secondary School bereaved parents with members, addresses journalists at Milimani court. Right: A parent breaks down after the ruling. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Almost Sh41 million is to be paid to parents of 63 students who died in a fire at Kyanguli Secondary School 15 years ago.

High Court Justice Joseph Sergon on Thursday said the school management, as the agent of the government, was negligent and failed to prevent the dormitory inferno on March 26, 2001.

“There were two attempts to burn the school before. The headteacher and his deputy, failed to take measures to avert the fire,” said the judge.

The signs of a possible attack became evident on March 23, 2001, when leaflets asking the students to boycott the assembly were posted in the school compound.

The aggrieved students are said to have been those whose Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam results were cancelled the previous year.

The judge said the school management should have carried out investigations when reports emerged of petrol in the dormitory.

He said the institution should have been closed immediately until adequate measures were put in place to contain a possible strike or attack.

AWARD

Every affected family will get Sh650,000 for pain and suffering. The total award  is Sh40,950,000.

The students who died were aged between 14 and 20 years.

The judge said the school failed to fit, provide and secure fire-fighting equipment and adequate and appropriate access, emergency and exit points in its dormitories.

The capacity of the dormitory was also overstretched as it was meant to accommodate 60 students, but had more than 90 at the time of the tragedy.

The parents sued the then headteacher David Mutiso Kiilu, deputy headteacher Stephen Kasyoka Makau, the Teachers Service Commission, the school board of governors and the attorney-general.

They filed the claim at the High Court for damages after a previous judgment found the headteacher and his deputy guilty of negligence.