MOMBASA, Jan. Wednesday 25 – Kenyan authorities today destroyed sugar worth 1.2 million US dollars (Kshs100 million) belonging to a Ugandan minister at a warehouse in Mombasa for being unfit for human consumption.
The sugar consignment was destroyed under the watchful eyes of several officials as sugar owners and agents of the Ugandan Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, claimed the officials were in contempt of court. There was tension at the warehouse after the first container of sugar was destroyed, by being mixed with sand and soil by officials who included the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), among others.
The sugar was destroyed under unclear circumstances, after Otafiire’s lawyers – Japheth Asige and Francis Mwakireti – had served the authorities with documents to confirm that despite a date for destruction being issued in court on December 16, 2011, they had 30 days of stay, which meant that the consignment should not have been interfered with.
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. The sugar was 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. And as the sugar was being destroyed, the lawyers claimed the stay was to last up to Feb. 22. “We had even given a notice of appeal against the ruling for destruction, and it was worth noting that December 21, 2011 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,” Otafiire’s lawyer Japheth Asige said on Wednesday.
It was claimed that despite the authorities being reminded, they had been in contempt of court since they have contravened court orders. The sugar was shipped to Kenya in 2007 and transported in 12, 460 bags in 25 containers. The Ugandan minister has since claimed that Kenyan politicians are out to ‘steal’ the sugar from him, and divert it to another market. (Xinhua)