A woman has been awarded Ksh3 million by a court for being thrown out of Hotel Intercontinental after she was mistaken for a prostitute 20 years ago.
Ms Winfred Njoki Clarke is a relieved woman after Justice Msaga Mbogholi this week ordered the five-star hotel to pay her Ksh2 million in damages for defamation and unlawful imprisonment. The Attorney General, who
In her suit papers, Ms Clarke told the court that on March 19th, 1998 she went to the hotel as a potential paying customer to have a drink with her friend but was denied service since she was not accompanied by a man. Ms Clarke testified in court that she went the bar counter and asked for two bottles of beer while holding Ksh400 in her hand but instead of being served, she was asked for “cover charge”.
She adds that when she inquired about the cover charge was she asked to see the manager. Instead, she aid in court papers, a security officer who told her that “women who were not residing at the hotel could not be served and that they must pay the ‘cover charge”.
On insisting, a waiter at the hotel quipped, “Why don’t you go ask your colleagues?” while pointing to two other women (presumably prostitutes) seated at the bar, in the presence of other customers. She said utterances meant that she was a woman of questionable moral conduct and a “prostitute”.
“A Security guard pulled me outside the hotel because I refused to pay the cover charge. I was denied an opportunity to sit at the lounge and when I ended up outside and boarded a taxi, the driver was ordered not to carry me, “she states in her court papers.
Ms Clarke says despite pleading that she was a respectable married woman to Terrence Leonard James Clarke, she was assaulted by the hotel’s security staff who who dragged her out of the taxi she had boarded after being evicted from the establishment.
“The Hotel Intercontinental personnel called and directed police officers to arrest me, after which I ended up at Central Police Station where I was held for two days without any charges being pressed against me, “she says.
Ms Clarke accused the Hotel of acting maliciously by arresting her in public, an ordeal which caused her severe shock and mental anguish. As if that was not enough, Ms Clarke says police officers at the Central Police station mistreated her. She accused the officers at the station of refusing to take her statement and recording her arrest in the Occurrence Book. (OB).
Ms Clarke says her husband was unable to secure her release but she was later released on a free bond.
However in their defence, the hotel blamed Ms Clarke for her “unruly behaviour” which could have led to a breach of peace had the police not been called to intervene. “We had every right to call for assistance due to her behaviour,” the hotel argued.
But the judged disagreed with the hotel saying “regardless of the admission and service regulations of the hotel, the treatment of Ms Clarke pointed to discrimination which in the circumstances was embarrassing and humiliating”.
Justice Mbogholi added that no notice was displayed on the premises that unaccompanied women were required to pay a “cover charge” for drinks.
“It was therefore within her right to ask what this “cover charge” was. Instead of an answer, she was dragged out of the hotel and ended up in a police station,” the judge stated.
Justice mbogholi added that the matter would have not reached the courts if the hotel management had acted in a more civil manner.”Malice can be imputed from the language used and actions taken,” he observed.
The Judge found that Ms Clarke’s reputation was tainted by being dragged out of the hotel leading to her arrest and unlawful detention. “The actions of the hotel amounted to great humiliation and embarrassment. Ms Clarke has established that she is entitled to damages,” he said.
I hereby make an award of Ksh2 million against the hotel and Ksh1 million against the Attorney General plus cost of the suit and interest”. She had sued the Hotel and the Attorney General.
Hotel Intercontinental, has a bed capacity of 770 and the biggest presidential suite in the city, measuring 2,340-square-feet. It has previously hosted many heads of state and dignitaries including US Vice President Joe Biden, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.