Court grants Matiba over Sh500 million for Moi era torture

Veteran politician Kenneth Matiba suffered a serious stroke on May 26, 1991, but remained in detention without medication for one week.

And for the torture in the hands of state agents, the multi-party crusader will now be paid half a billion shillings by the state.

The award, the highest paid to a victim of torture so far, was given by Supreme Court judge Isaac Lenaola on Wednesday.

The judge had handled the case at the High court before he was promoted to the highest court in the land.

Lenaola said Matiba had proven great violations were meted upon him by state agents before he was released on June 4, 1991.

This was two days after a head scan confirmed he was bleeding in his brain and required urgent blockage of the arteries.

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

The judge further agreed Matiba’s medical condition was triggered by the events in detention.

“It so greatly affected the business acumen, attention, focus, energy guidance and leadership that he was giving his companies,” the judge said.

Lenaola agreed with Matiba’s family that the complainant’s businesses deteriorated while others collapsed owing to his absence at their helm.

The judgment was read on his behalf by Justice Chacha Mwita.

Matiba, 85, had sought Sh4,726,332,042.91, being the total worth of his businesses that collapsed owing to his incarceration.

But Lenaola said it was only proper that the state should bear 20 per cent of his claim.

For the torture and inhumane treatment in the hands of state agents, the judge awarded Matiba Sh15 million.

And for medical costs, the judge gave him Sh18 ,146,631.52 and a further Sh 471,664,258.50 as compensation for financial losses.

Read: Matiba lost Sh5bn, says finance analyst


Matiba’s woes began with the 1990 Saba Saba rally, when he and politician Charles Rubia called for an end of the single-party rule.

He had sued the government for detention and torture. The family claims he lost investments worth Sh5 billion in commercial real estate and in privately held shares.

Before then, the family argued the politician had an illustrious career in politics and a flourishing business empire.

To convince the court, they called a financial and investment analyst Lawrence Murigi who estimated financial in public trading shares at Sh329 million and loss in dividends at Sh210 million.

The court heard proceeds from the companies were disposed off to offset loans but his empire drastically shrank after he sold off the prestigious Hillcrest Group of Schools.

This was part of a settlement his family had made with Barclays Bank to recover a debt.

Matiba had earlier lost control of carbon dioxide manufacturers, Carbacid, as he sold his shares to a private firm.

Other property he lost over debt include Jadini, African and Safari beach hotels and millions of shillings worth of shares at the East African Breweries and the East African Portland Cement.

In the judgment, Justice Lenaola agreed that the collapse of Matiba’s businesses can be traced to his detention saying his Dr Dan Gikonyo’s evidence was not disputed by the state.

Gikonyo, a heart specialist, said Matiba’s medical condition could have been managed by prompt treatment but he was held in detention despite his deteriorating health.

Lenaola however said that to argue that he is entitled to the entire cost of refurbishing one of his hotels is to stretch his claims too far.

“The state must now wake up and realise that past misconduct will not go unpunished.”

Lenaola said the government of the day must accept atrocities were indeed committed adding that it must remain a lesson for Kenya not to return to “those dark days”.

“Justice must be looked at from the prism of ensuring it is seen in the eyes of victims and not the amounts awarded in damages.”

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