Koffi to serve 18 months jail term for kicking dancer

Rumba maestro Koffi Olomide in action during a past concert at the Koroga Festival held at the Nairobi Aboretum. Koffi has been sentenced to 18 months for assaulting one of his dancers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) last week. (PHOTO: ELVIS OGINA/ STANDARD)

Congolese musician Koffi Olomide has been sentenced to 18 months for assaulting one of his dancers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) last week.

The musician was found guilty of the offence by a Kinshasa court yesterday.

The famed music icon was arrested early yesterday and a team of five lawyers spent the better part of the day fighting for his release; they worked round the clock to ensure Koffi did not spend a night in custody but their best efforts were thwarted as he will now be behind bars for over a year.

Koffi was arrested in his palatial home following his deportation from Kenya for kicking one of his dancers. The artiste was deported at 11.30am last Saturday. He was put on board a Kenya Airways flight following a public outcry in response to the assault that was captured on video and circulated on social media.

The much-publicised incident also led to the cancellation of a scheduled July 29 to August 1 concert in Zambia.

A source from DRC revealed that Koffi, who has a had several run-ins with law enforcers, was arrested on grounds of misbehaving and tarnishing the name of his country.

“This is to assure everybody out there that no one is above the law, not even Koffi, hence the decision by the authorities to have him locked up yesterday morning (Tuesday) without giving him a chance to defend himself,” said a source before his sentencing in the late afternoon.

On the Sunday before his arrest, Koffi was interviewed by one of the Congolese television stations during which he not only narrated the unfortunate incident in Kenya but also apologised to his fans around the globe.

He described Kenya as one of his favourite destinations and professed his undying love for Kenyans before apologising to the entire world, women, girls and leaders.

“I want to sincerely say that I am sorry for what transpired in Kenya. Please find it in your heart to forgive me since it was not intentional,” he said.

On his deportation from Kenya on Saturday, the king of Tcha Tcho and rumba music was received with jeers from fans who disapproved of his behaviour.

“It is high time he realised that regardless of one’s social status, what counts most is your character. And this is what Koffi needs to work on at the moment before it is too late,” said a musician in DRC who did not want to be named.

Meanwhile, Koffi’s Kenyan-based promoter, Jules Nsana said he had made a huge loss as a result of the cancelled Nairobi event. Mr Nsana revealed that he had lost money to the tune of Sh10 million, having spent Sh3 million to pay Koffi for the show, another Sh4 million on return air tickets for the 25 band members on Kenya Airways, their accommodation at the Villa Rosa Kempinsky Hotel as well as food and incidentals.

“Although I am yet to get over it, I believe everything in life happens for a reason. Despite everything, I strongly support the action taken by the Kenyan government who ensured justice prevailed, besides forseeing a likely disaster during the show. Hence their decision to deport him,” he said, adding that it was high time the musician redeemed his image.

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