Trade Unions' registrar Mathenge jailed for one month in KMPDU contempt case

A registrar of Trade Unions has been jailed for one month after ignoring court orders.

Beatrice Mathenge was found guilty of contempt of court after she ignored court orders in a case filed against her by the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).

In his judgment delivered today, the Employment and Labour Relations Court Principal Judge Byram Ongaya, Ms Mathenge was slapped with an alternative fine of Sh100,000 failure to which she would serve a one-month jail term.

Justice Ongaya said despite Ms Mathenge being aware of previous court orders directing her to register KMPDU officials following their election, failed to conduct her duty as prescribed by the law and, hence was found guilty of contempt.

“On August 4, 2023 the ruling on the contempt application was subsequently delivered in circumstances that, as the contemnor confirmed in her testimony, she had all along been aware of the judgment and the application for contempt but despite being the Acting Registrar of Trade Unions and substantively a Chief State Counsel (duly re-designated by Public Service Commission effective May 5, 2022), she had failed to comply with the order in the Judgment as directed at her and failed to attend Court on the contempt application,” read the court ruling.

“The Court found her in contempt of Court and has taken into account all the circumstances of the case and imposes a sentence of payment of a fine of Sh100,000 forthwith and in default, the contemnor be imprisoned for a term of 30 days,” the judgment read in part.

KMPDU officials in an affidavit told the court they were duly elected to their roles on June 11, 2022, and communicated the same to Ms Mathenge for registration on June 13, 2022.

Ms Mathenge however, failed to do so, prompting the union to seek redress in the court where they received a favorable ruling on February 10, 2023.

Registrar of Trade Unions Beatrice Mathenge when she appeared in Court on November 3, 2023. [Courtesy]

“In the said judgment, this honorable Court directed the registrar of Trade Unions to register the officials of the appellant elected on June 11, 2022, and communicated to the Registrar vide form Q dated June 13, 2022,” read a section of court papers.

Following the judgment, KMPDU wrote to the registrar vide letters dated February 14, 2023, requesting for registration of its officials in compliance with the judgment of the Court.”

According to court’s documents, on March 1, 2023,  KMPDU through their advocates, wrote to the registrar asking for compliance with the judgment of the Court.

KMPDU went on to state that, despite sending her numerous letters, Ms Mathenge still declined to comply with the court order to register its officials following their election.

Ms Mathenge did not also file any responses in the case, prompting KMPDU to file a contempt application on March 6, 2023, for disregard of the court ruling.

The doctors’ union sought an order committing the Registrar of Trade Unions to civil jail for six months for acting in contempt of the judgment.

Justice Ongaya on August 9, 2023, directed Ms Mathenge to appear before the court on September 25, 2023, and show compliance with the earlier orders or risk sentencing for contempt.

And on October 25, Justice Ongaya found Ms Mathenge guilty of contempt of court orders and issued a warrant for her arrest.

The Judge directed Capitol Hill Police Station OCS to arrest Ms Mathenge and present her in court the following morning for mentioning of the case.