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October 19, 2018

Matiang'i at war with contraband traders selling 'chemicals, poison' to Kenyans

Some of the sugar that was seized on Mombasa Road, while being transported to Nairobi's Eastleigh area, at the DCI headquarters, June 13, 2018. /COURTESY
Some of the sugar that was seized on Mombasa Road, while being transported to Nairobi's Eastleigh area, at the DCI headquarters, June 13, 2018. /COURTESY

The bags of contraband sugar that were seized from a warehouse in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area have mercury and copper components.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i added that it has about 12 percent moisture and is harmful to consumers.

The sugar, mostly brown and in 1,500 50 kg bags, was found at a godown in Section Three of the area.

Cooking oil was also confiscated by officers who had been tipped, Flying Squad boss Musa Yego said, adding the consignment was from Brazil. It was to be transported to Mumias and Kabras sugar factories for refining.

Matiang'i said another 1,600 bags of sugar were seized on Mombasa Road on Wednesday morning, while being transported to Eastleigh.

Read: 1,500 bags of sugar seized in Eastleigh

Also read: Contraband sugar suspects arraigned

KEBS stickers that were confiscated alongside sugar on Mombasa Road, while being transported to Nairobi's Eastleigh area, at the DCI headquarters, June 13, 2018. /COURTESY

The CS said the results of tests on counterfeit goods confiscated over the last one month have been "shocking".

"It is unfortunate that some characters are making abnormal profits from selling poisonous and injurious products to Kenyans," he said. "The criminality around illegal sugar importation and fuel adulteration is mind boggling."

At the DCI headquarters in Nairobi, he added that a detailed report on the investigations will be handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said three Somalis were the suspects in the illegal trade. They were taken to court, where the prosecution asked for more time to finish investigations.

A tough-talking Matiang’i said the crackdown was still on and that the government will ensure all culprits are punished.

The Minister praised agencies led by Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambu and DCI boss George Kinoti for a "tremendous job" that included the arraignment of suspects.

But he noted: "This is not a normal on and off operation. We are on course ... we shall hunt down all contraband goods. This is in line with a firm directive from the President."

He added: “It is high time Kenyans changed the way they live. We cannot go on like this ... we are not going to be polite. Mixing products with chemicals and poison is murder on a wide scale. With firm and clear instructions from the President, we must do all it takes to end this."

Matiang'i said his office will give budgetary resources and institutional support to facilitate a crackdown across the country, especially along porous borders.

"This is not only about investigations. It is a serious war that may result in loss of life for some of us. Those who have been calling and threatening us should know we are courageous and focused, and that we have the President's solid support,” he said.

“If you are involved in such deals, you’d rather surrender before we catch up with you because it is going to be tough and messy."

Some of the sugar that was seized on Mombasa Road, while being transported to Nairobi's Eastleigh area, at the DCI headquarters, June 13, 2018. /COURTESY

The CS also noted that the "dirty deals" have hurt the economy and diminished gains in ensuring Kenya sustains itself.

He asked officials at the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency at the Kenya Bureau of Standards to be honest.

"A time has come for all of you to soul-search and come to Jesus. If you are making money through such deals, just go home before we find you," he said, noting that large quantities of counterfeits show officers are sleeping on their jobs.

“This is about radical transformation. For sure, those we do not need for not cooperating will go," he said.

Also see: Matiang’i promises ‘clean-up’ at borders to end illegal imports

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