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January 16, 2019

Contraband sugar seized from Eastleigh contained mercury

some of the impounded expired sugar sugar with a packaging machine at the DCI./EZEKIEL AMING'A
some of the impounded expired sugar sugar with a packaging machine at the DCI./EZEKIEL AMING'A

Police have zeroed in on a company accused of importing tainted contraband sugar from Brazil.

DCI officers yesterday said they had sought the firm’s documents from the Registrar of Companies so they can identify its directors. It is said to be associated with powerful people from the Mt Kenya region.

This development follows revelations that the more than 3,000 bags of sugar seized in Eastleigh, Nairobi, contained mercury.

At a press briefing yesterday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said the sugar also excessive moisture, about 12 per cent, and is harmful to consumers.

The sugar, mostly brown and in 50kg bags, was found at a godown in Section Three of the estate. Cooking oil was also confiscated by officers who had been tipped off.

Flying Squad boss Musa Yego said the goods were from Brazil. The sugar was to be transported to Mumias and Kabras factories for repackaging, he said.

Matiang’i said another 1,600 bags of sugar were seized on Mombasa Road yesterday morning while in transit to Eastleigh.

The results of tests on counterfeit goods confiscated in the last one month have been “shocking”, he said.

“It is unfortunate some characters are making abnormal profits from selling poisonous and injurious products to Kenyans,” Matiang’i said at the DCI headquarters, Nairobi.

“The criminality around illegal sugar importation and fuel adulteration is mind boggling.”

He said a detailed report will be handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said three Somalis were suspects in the illegal trade. They were taken to court and the prosecution requested more time to investigate.

Matiang’i said the crackdown is still on and the government will ensure all culprits are punished.

He praised Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo and DCI boss George Kinoti for a “tremendous job” including the arraignment of suspects.

“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 presidential directive,” the CS said.

Matiang’i said his office will give financial and institutional support to the countrywide crackdown, especially along porous borders.

“It is high time Kenyans changed the way they live. We can’t go on like this. We’re not going to be polite. Mixing products with chemicals and poison is murder on a wide scale. We must do all it takes to end this,” he said.

The CS said officers have been threatened but they will not relent. “This is not only about investigations. It is a serious war that may result in loss of life for some of us,” Matiang’i said.

He warned those involved in trading contraband to surrender before they are arrested because “it’s going to be tough and messy.”

The “dirty deals” have hurt the economy and made it more difficult for  Kenya to sustain itself, he said. Matiang’i said he demanded honesty from officers at the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency in the crackdown. 

The high volume of seizures shows officers have been sleeping on the job, he said  

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