Feud over CCTV 'intrusion into bedroom' sparks neighbours' fight

CCTV cameras at Iten County Referral Hospital in Elgeyo Marakwet where suspected bandits stormed and took away a patient on Sunday 9, 2023. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Fight over privacy is becoming the new battlefront among Kenyans.

After High Court judge Hedwig Ong’udi ordered a woman to uninstall a CCTV camera for snooping fears, another case has been filed over allegations of breach of privacy.

The first case involved Kennedy Ondieki and his neighbour Hellen Maeda, in Kilimani, Nairobi County. Justice Ong’udi found that Maeda should have sought Ondieki’s consent before installing the CCTV in her compound.

Even before the dust settled following the ruling, neighbours at Ngumba estate in Kasarani have filed a similar case over surveillance cameras.

Samuel Ngunjiri has sued his neighbour Faith Kambi and landlord Joseph Mutharia, saying they installed CCTV cameras without his consent. Ngunjiri said the neighbours have intruded on his privacy as the camera directly faces his house. He said he expressed his displeasure with the action by Kambi and Mutharia on May 1, but they did not heed his word.

"Seeing as his concerns were not being addressed, the petitioner reported the matter to Kasarani Stadium Police Station on May 11, 2023, and OB Number 11/3/5/2023 was issued. However, not much was done to address his concerns,” Ngunjiri says in his court papers.

Ngunjiri says he then decided to engage his lawyers, who demanded on his behalf that the neighbours should uninstall the device. He also says he even suggested that they change the direction of the cameras but the idea fell on deaf ears.

In addition, Ngunjiri says for the 11 years that he has lived at the apartment, there have been no insecurity incidents. He says the cameras have been installed to trace his movements to his bedroom. "The first respondent did not respond positively to the demand even though a proposal was made to alter the angles of the cameras. The cameras, as angled, can capture his movements up to the corner of his bedroom,” says Ngunjiri.

Although the complainant admits that Kambi has a right to put up CCTV, he argues that it can only be installed in such a way it operates around the latter's house. "With the installation of the CCTV cameras the family and minors have been affected and the minors are no longer free to play around the common area as before," says Ngunjiri.

Ngunjiri says Mutharia is his landlord. He accuses him of failing to take action, and instead, he has been ordered to vacate the apartment for misbehaviour.

He now wants the court to compel Kambi to surrender all the data collected by the cameras. At the same time, he wants her barred from using the CCTV and the landlord stopped from evicting him.

"The petitioner also wants the second respondent to be restrained from harassing him in the name of an eviction based on him voicing his concerns and seeking to protect himself and his family from unlawful collection of data,” he says in his case filed before High Court judge Lawrence Mugambi.

The case will be mentioned on Thursday.