BLOODY AVOCADOS OF MAKUYU

Victims of Kakuzi rights abuses speak of assault, rape

79 individuals have sued the UK-listed firm, leading to rejection of its avocados in the British market

In Summary
  • Victims of Kakuzi human rights violations speak of suffering in the hands of Kakuzi guards.
  • A woman who requested anonymity said her 14-year-old daughter was raped and is pregnant.
Farmers buy avocado seedlings at Kakuzi company
REJECTED: Farmers buy avocado seedlings at Kakuzi company
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

In January, Kennedy Musyoki was cutting grass for his cows at his home near Kakuzi firm fence in Makuyu, Murang'a, when four guards pounced on him.

“They told me to cross over to their firm where I would get more grass but I refused because that was a trick. They then crossed to my place and one guard with a machete attempted to slash me," he said.

While blocking the machete that was aimed at his head, he sustained a deep cut on his left hand which was almost amputated. He said he bled until he fainted before neighbours came to his help.

He was treated at two hospitals before he was referred to Kenyatta National Hospital were he was treated for three months.

Musyoki said his wife left him after he was assaulted.

“I used to play the guitar at a band as a job but now my hand can hardly hold anything,” he said holding back tears.

He says he was cut by guards well known to him who have since vanished from their work area.

Victims of Kakuzi human rights violations have supported closure of the UK market to the company's avocados.

On Thursday, teary residents narrated ordeals of assault, torching of houses, unfair work termination and rape perpetrated by guards of the company.

Anthony Nzioki said he injured his ankle when he fell as Kakuzi guards chased him after they found him cutting grass for his cows.

“I'm not a thief. I wasn’t even in their land, but when they approached me, I decided to run for my dear life,” he said.

He had to sell his four cows to settle medical bills to treat the injury.

A woman who requested anonymity said her 14-year-old daughter was raped by a guard last month and is now expectant as a result.

She said her daughter was collecting firewood when a guard pounced on her.

The guard was arrested after the girl picked him out in an identification parade.

“The guard is now out on bond and my girl is at a children’s home. All I want is justice because, finally, it is me who will cater for upkeep of the child,” she said.

Teresiah Wanjiru, a former worker, said she injured her leg after a tractor hit her at a yard in 2007.

At Maragwa Hospital, a scan showed that a bone had dislocated. Her leg swelled as a result of the injury and she was sacked because she couldn’t wear safety boots.

“They sacked me without even giving me any compensation. All I want is justice,” sobbing Wanjiru told journalists.

Other victims said they had lost land and had suffered injuries on grounds of collecting firewood or cutting grass.

Kenya Human Rights Commission deputy director Davis Malombe refuted allegations that victims had been coached to give false stories.

“Kakuzi said that we have no victims and that people have been coached to give false stories. Some of these cases are actual physical assaults that you can see,” he said.

He spoke at Kinyangi shopping centre where victims of Kakuzi human rights violations met on Thursday.

The UK retail giant Tesco suspended supply of avocados from Kakuzi following a lawsuit by Leigh Day against Camellia, a UK-listed company that owns 50.7 per cent of Kakuzi.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper highlighted alleged gross human rights violation against employees at the Makuyu-based firm as presented in a UK court by 79 families.

KHRC, which is part of the suit, now wants Kakuzi's other clients in UK, including Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, to follow suit and suspend avocado supply from Kakuzi as those are “bloody avocados”.

Edited by Henry Makori