Anger as Court Makes Unpopular Ruling Over Solai Dam Suspects

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Solai Dam

A number of Kenyans online have vented their anger against the judiciary after a Naivasha court acquitted nine suspects who had been charged with causing the death of 47 people during the dam tragedy at the Patel farm in Solai, Nakuru County in May 2018.

While making his ruling, Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali cited “lack of willingness and support” from the Director of Public Prosecution’s office in prosecuting the case to acquit the nine who include the owner of the farm, Perry Mansukh Kansagara.

“It appears to the court that a case is not made out against the accused person sufficiently to require him to make a defence, the court shall dismiss the case and shall forthwith acquit him,” Bidali ruled.

Others included farm’s General Manager Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Nakuru County Water Director Johnson Kamau Njuguna, Water Resources Authority and National Environment Management Authority officers Luka Kipyegen, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were, Tomkin Odo Odhiambo, Willie Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot.

Haji, who expressed his displeasure over the court’s decision, denied that prosecutors from his office failed to turn up in court for the case hearing and said that his office will appeal the ruling.

“To use the fact that one of the prosecutors wasn’t there is not enough to acquit. Our records show very well that the application has not been fully heard because some of the interested parties in the case have not presented their case. We are puzzled. We’ve been struggling to move this case from Naivasha to Nairobi after allegations that some witnesses have been compromised. We’ve been very restrained but this is not tenable,” he said.

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DPP Haji

In December 2019, the victims and suspects had both complained about the delayed trial, saying it was yet to begin 18 months later.

The hearing had been adjourned for several reasons, leaving victims with little hope that the matter will be concluded.

The senators had also questioned the whereabouts of Sh1 billion that the government released for the affected families through the Red Cross, but the money did not get to the beneficiaries.

The dam collapsed on May 9 2018 and left hundreds of families displaced when waters swept away their property.

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Hundreds of families were displaced when waters swept away their property

Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee had also accused the DPP, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and other State agencies of ignoring a report by an ad hoc committee that was chaired by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.

The senators accused government agencies of handling the matter in a casual manner.

“There is a general reluctance and attitude and lack of goodwill by government agencies and they must be condemned in no uncertain terms for abdicating their roles,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said then.

The move to acquit the suspects over lack of evidence has left many Kenyans angered on the justice system.

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