Del Monte on the spot again over accusations of torture, abuses
Food processor Del Monte is once again under scrutiny following claims of torture and other abuses on residents by its guards.
Mr Stephen Mburu, 30, says he was in his farm near the Thika-based company on Sunday, when truncheon-wielding guards and their dogs descended on him.
Helping Mr Mburu on the farm was Mr Geoffrey Ndung’u, 24. “The guards ordered us to lie down. I knew we were in big trouble,” Mr Mburu said.
He decided to run and the guards set the dogs on him.
The result was multiple dog bites on his face and arms as he desperately tried to fend the animals off. When the guards caught up with Mr Mburu, they beat him badly. .
On account of cooperating with the guards by surrendering, Mr Ndung’u suffered a few dog bites on his behind as he lay prostrate.
The two were driven to Ngati police patrol base and found three other young men — Samuel Kinyungu, Peter Guoko and Julius Ndung’u — who had been picked up elsewhere.
Police refused to detain Mr Mburu, saying he was in bad shape following the dog bites and the beating. They advised the guards to take him to hospital first.
Area police boss Peter Muchemi said Mr Mburu could not be admitted to the station, to prevent a situation where his juniors would be accused of beating detainees.
The guards left the station with Mr Mburu. But instead of taking him to hospital, they dumped him in the bush at night, some 10 kilometres from his home.
He was later found unconscious by herders who called his family.
Mr Ndung’u was released unconditionally after collapsing in his cell the following day.
The two men have not received any treatment as their families have no money.
The three men they found in the cells were taken to court where they were all jailed for a month or fine of S15,000 each.
They had been charged with trespassing and stealing pineapples from the plantation.
“Assault and setting dogs loose on the two men are very serious allegations. I wish they could register and record an official complaint,” Gatanga Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss John Kanda told the Nation.
In a statement, Del Monte managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas said the two men were pineapple thieves.
“While on patrol, our guards encountered two gangs of thieves fighting over the opportunity to steal pineapples from our farm,” he said yesterday.
The statement said some thieves ran away, but five remained behind.
“As per the regular process, the two were apprehended by the guards and handed over to Ngati police patrol base for interrogation,” the statement added.
Mr Gkaliamoutsas said the company has since received reports of the the men being assaulted by Del Monte guards.
He added that internal investigations have been launched.
Kandara Resident Association chairman Phillip Kamau told the Nation that it does not matter if the young men were thieves or innocent.
“The Constitution expressly demands humane treatment of all, regardless of status,” he said. He demanded a public inquiry be instituted to receive testimony of how the community around Del Monte has suffered at the hands of the guards and the dogs.