NYAYO HOUSE

Rights activist's ex-houseboy gets Sh2m for torture

Appeal Court sets aside earlier Sh400,000 award to Rhumba Kinuthia's former houseboy.

In Summary

• Appeal Court raised award of Sh400,000 to Sh2 million for Rhumba Kinuthia's former houseboy.

• Judges said the earlier award by the High Court was too low, an erroneous estimate of suffering and damages. 

he torture chambers at the basement of the Nyayo house. Gacheche Wa Miano, a torture victim has accused the Office of the President (OP) and the Treasury of defying a court order that awarded him Sh5.5million compensation.
he torture chambers at the basement of the Nyayo house. Gacheche Wa Miano, a torture victim has accused the Office of the President (OP) and the Treasury of defying a court order that awarded him Sh5.5million compensation.

A former houseboy of rights activist Rhumba Kinuthia has been awarded Sh2 million in damages for the horrors he endured in the Nyao torture chambers in 1990.

Court of Appeal judges Martha Koome, Steven  Gatembu and Jamila Mohammed set aside an earlier High Court award of Sh400,000 and raised it to Sh2 million.

In 2015, then High Court judge Isaac Lenaola awarded Bernard Matama Sh400,000 and declared his rights were grossly violated by officers for eights days at the Nyoyo House torture chambers and two police stations.

Matama appealed, arguing the amount was too low and Lenaola ignored previous damage award for torture ranging from Sh1.5 million to Sh3 million.

He sought fair damages for violations he suffered at the hands of the state.

The appellate judges agreed, noting other torture victims were awarded much more.

“We cannot deny the inhuman treatment, physical and mental torture suffered by Matama at the hands of the state agents when he was kept incommunicado at the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers for eight days,” they said.

At the time of his arrest, Matama was living and working as a houseboy at a residence belonging to rights activist Kinuthia in Kariobangi South Estate, Nairobi.

He said he was bundled into a police vehicle, driven in circles for hours, then taken to Buru Buru police station and locked in a solitary cell.

The next day Matama was bundled into another police vehicle, blindfolded, driven around for hours and taken to Pangani police station. Again, he was locked in a solitary cell.

That night he was taken to Nyayo House and locked in a dark basement cell.

Matama said he was later taken to the 24th floor and interrogated by a panel of 10 people. He was ordered to strip naked, slapped, kicked, beaten, whipped and struck with broken chair pieces.

He was also sprayed with pressurised water while be was naked, forced to do press-ups and rotate on his fingertips.

The torture was repeated for eight days at Nyayo House where Matama was kept in a dark cell flooded with cold water. He said he was denied food and water, a sleeping mat and blanket during that time.

(Edited by V. Graham)