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Kenyan supplier dropped by Tesco calls for probe into allegations

By Reuters | October 13th 2020

Kenyan food producer Kakuzi has asked the chief prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes on its estates, a day after British retailer Tesco suspended supplies from the avocados to macadamia nuts firm.

Law firm Leigh Day said on Sunday that 79 Kenyans had launched a legal claim in the High Court in London against Camellia Plc for alleged human rights abuses by security guards employed by Kakuzi, its Kenyan subsidiary.

The allegations, dating from 2009 to January this year, include rapes, attacks on local villagers and a man being beaten to death, Leigh Day said in a statement.

Kakuzi does not condone any criminal activities or behaviour by any of its employees and to this end we have requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the allegations of criminality and take action in accordance with the law,” the Kenyan company said in a statement on its website.

Noordin Haji, Kenya’s director of public prosecutions, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Camellia, which bought a 50.7 per cent stake in Kakuzi in the 1990s, said in a statement it expected the Kenyan firm to “ensure that all allegations are urgently and exhaustively examined (and) that justice is served if wrongdoing is uncovered.”

Tesco said on Sunday it had suspended all supplies from Kakuzi.

“Any form of human rights abuse in our supply chain is unacceptable. We have been working closely with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), alongside other ETI members, to investigate this issue and ensure measures have been taken to protect workers”, a spokesman said.

Kakuzi also produces tea, pineapples and rears livestock on its vast estates in central Kenya.   

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