JUSTICE AT LAST FOR FATHER OF MULTIPARTY DEMOCRACY KENNETH MATIBA.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with Kenneth Matiba at his home in South Coast/FILE PHOTO.

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with Kenneth Matiba at his home in South Coast/FILE PHOTO.

BY SAM ALFAN.
 The father of multiparty democracy in Kenya Kenneth Matiba has been awarded over half a billion shillings for torture that rendered him incapacitated.

In 1991, during the clamour of multiparty democracy Matiba who was the face of change then was arrested, detained, tortured, maimed which rendered him incapacitated to date.

The fiery politician championed to trounce Moi lost coherent coordination of speech and even walking.

The court gave Matiba Sh504 million to caution the atrocious acts by former President Daniel Moi’s regime.

Supreme Court Judge Isaac Lenaola said Matiba’s mistreatment and torture by State security agents during the crackdown on proponents of multi-party democracy was totally unjustifiable.

The expansive democratic space Kenyans are presently enjoying was opened up by Matiba and other opposition stalwarts who defied the dictates of retired President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

“The State must now wake up to the reality that past conduct of its officials and agents will no longer remain unpunished,” Justice Lenaola said.

“Real justice can be expensive and nothing in compensation can return Matiba to the sprightly and fit man that he was before his detention and stroke.

Nothing in compensation can return him to the business mogul that he once was and who towered over the political and financial landscape of Kenya like a Colossus,” the Judge observed.

Justice Lenaola recalled that renowned heart specialist, Dr Dan Gikonyo, had painted a grim picture of Matiba’s life whose days are numbered.

“Let this judgment merely serve as a warning to the State that each Kenyan’s life matters and that it should never treat any of its citizens the way it treated Matiba, whatever disagreements agents and officials of the State at the time may have had with him,” he pointed out.

Justice Lenaola recalled that renowned heart specialist, Dr Dan Gikonyo, had painted a grim picture of Matiba’s life whose days are numbered. “Let this judgment merely serve as a warning to the State that each Kenyan’s life matters and that it should never treat any of its citizens the way it treated Matiba, whatever disagreements agents and officials of the State at the time may have had with him,” he pointed out.

The Judge ruled that State security agents violated Matiba’s constitutional right to be free from torture, cruel and inhuman treatment. He awarded him Sh15million in general damages, Sh18,146,631/50 being the cost of medical expenses and Sh471,664,258/50 for financial losses occasioned to him following the collapse of his business and financial ventures.

The former long-serving cabinet minister and ex-Kiharu MP said his business acumen, entrepreneurship, leadership abilities and physical fitness were severely compromised by the gross violation of his fundamental rights and freedoms. He was seeking Sh9,153,103 as special damages incurred for medical expenses, genera, exemplary and aggravated damages.

Matiba claimed he was unlawfully arrested on July 4, 1990 at the height of the clamour for political pluralism and was mistreated while in prison to destroy his spirit of fighting for democracy and good governance. The Government intended to kill him by poisoning his food during his five-month incarceration in solitary confinement when his family was barred from visiting him.

The doyen of opposition politics said he continues to suffer excruciating psychological pain and mental anguish while his health continues to deteriorate. The former Kanu regime’s arrest, detention and mistreatment was part of a larger plot maliciously executed to perpetuate its stay in power through undemocratic means, he said.

In his supplementary affidavit in support of his petition, Matiba explained that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto paid him separate visit on August 11 and September 11, 2013 and this was proof that his agitation for multi-party democracy was lawful and done in good faith. He dismissed his detention as unlawful and malicious because there was no threat to national and public security.

Matiba’s tribulations began in May 1990 when he and former Cabinet minister Charles Rubia convened a press conference in Nairobi in which the called for the repeal of Section 2A of the defunct Constitution to nullify the one-party State and open up the democratic space. They had called for dissolution of Parliament and fresh election.

What followed was condemnation and vilification from Kanu stalwarts, including retired President Daniel arap Moi, Cabinet ministers, technocrats and politicians. Moi and his corhorts falsely and maliciously accused Matiba and Rubia of having sinister motives in calling for re-introduction of multi-party democracy and went ahead to criminalize their legal actions, he said.

During the hearing of the petition, Dr Gikonyo, had confirmed to Justice Lenaola that Matiba suffered a serious stroke on May 26, 1991 and remained without medication for one week. An urgent medical intervention was unavailable for the detainee.

The 85-year-old former presidential candidate was only released from detention on June 4, 1991, two days after a head scan had confirmed he was bleeding in his brain and required urgent blockage of the arteries. The delay in emergency treatment resulted in permanent disability and Matiba was confined to a wheel-chair, Dr Gikonyo said.

Matiba’s family managed to take him to England where he was attended to by neuro-surgeons but his left-side brain damage was irreparable because of his advanced age. Although Matiba had some mild form of high blood pressure before his detention, which he controlled through treatment and physical exercises, lack of proper medical care resulted in deterioration of his health, Dr Gikonyo had testified.

Financial and Investments analyst Lawrence Murigi had told the court that Matiba, who previously personally managed his businesses, lost investments worth Sh5billion during his detention since he did not participate in crucial decision-making and day-to-day management.

Murigi, who was contracted by Matiba’s daughter, Susan Mwamto, to carry out an audit of the estate, said the politician lost more than Sh2 billion in commercial real estate and a further Sh2 billion privately held shares.

The specialist estimated financial losses the politician suffered in public trading shares at Sh329 million and loss in dividends at Sh210 million.  “Because of his detention, he was not able to provide leadership and as a result, most of his businesses had to be disposed of to satisfy creditors,” Murigi had explained.

The court heard that proceeds from the companies were disposed of to offset loans.  The former presidential candidate’s business empire drastically shrank after he sold off the prestigious Hill Crest Group of Schools as part of a settlement his family had made with Barclays Bank to recover a debt.

Arguments that Prison warder Joshua Yuma dismissed saying that Matiba was given a bed while other prisoners slept on the floor. Yuma was among the witnesses called by the state in its defence against claims of torturing Matiba in detention. Matiba sued the state over the alleged torture and he is seeking was  billion compensation, saying he lost investment running into billions of shillings.

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