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July 21, 2018

Bidco ordered to pay family Sh1.1 million after staffer's body found in store

Judge Joseph Sergon who has ordered BIdco Oil Refineries to pay a family Sh1.1 million in damages following the death of a staff member. Photo/FILE
Judge Joseph Sergon who has ordered BIdco Oil Refineries to pay a family Sh1.1 million in damages following the death of a staff member. Photo/FILE

Bidco Oil Refineries has been ordered to pay Sh1.1 million damages to the family of an employee found dead in one of its packaging stores.

The body of 33-year-old casual labourer Albert Zedi was found under a heap of cartons four days after he had gone missing. It was found swollen, with blood stains and head, neck and leg injuries.

Zedi, who had worked for the Thika-based company from 1991 to 2002, had reported for night duty on October 16, 2002 when he went missing.

He worked with a colleague identified as Benson Njuguna until about 2am when he reportedly went to washroom and did not return.

Zedi's workmate is said to have searched for him in the stores in vain before asking the chief security guard of his whereabouts but was told he had left.

There were reports that he had said he would pass by the department store to pick tin lids after their tea break.

Zedi neither reported for work nor went home for the next three days; his brother Isaac Odinga reported him missing and the police launched a search.

A guard was later arrested and charged in court for allegedly destroying evidence by burning Zedi’s clothes.

Three other suspects were arrested and charged with murder but were freed for lack of evidence. The Attorney General later ordered an inquest but its findings have not been made public.

Zedi's family later sued Bidco for damages, citing negligence and an unsafe working environment.

The family also noted that Zedi was married to a housewife, had two young children and was his family's sole provider.

In a ruling at Milimani law courts last week, Judge Joseph Sergon said: “If there were proper working security system the deceased’s body could have easily been found within a short time," he said.

"I am convinced that the circumstantial evidence which presents itself indicts the defendant to be liable."

Sergon questioned whether there was an attempt to cover up the death, dismissed the company's defence and awarded the family general damages for loss and pain, loss of dependency and special damages.

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