Company sues to free seized sugar over excess yeast

A company whose sugar worth millions of shillings was impounded for containing excess yeast has gone to court to contest the decision.

Landmark Freight Services Ltd, through senior counsel Tom Ojienda, wants the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stopped from destroying more than 100,000 bags of sugar seized at its warehouse in Mombasa.

Prof Ojienda argued that it was discriminatory to destroy the company’s sugar when other firms whose consignments also contained high amounts of impurities were allowed to refine the sugar before releasing it to the market.

“We do not understand why the company’s sugar was singled out for destruction when it had complied with all Government regulations and satisfied the Kebs and KRA marks of quality,” he said.

The company stated that it was a licensed sugar importer and had imported 25,580 metric tonnes of brown sugar from Brazil between May and August last year.

Ojienda submitted that the sugar consignment was inspected at the Port of Mombasa and the company issued with a certificate of conformity, certificate of weight and certificate of quality by Kebs officials.

“When the sugar docked, Kebs took a random sample and conducted a micro-biology test and found it to be of approved standard. KRA also issued a compliant certificate after confirming the sugar was safe,” said Ojienda.

The company stated that based on the clearance certificates, it had sold 400,000 bags of the imported sugar without any hindrance from Government agencies.

However, it argued that a multi-agency team comprising KRA, Kebs and Ministry of Trade officials raided its warehouse with a seizure notice and claims that the company was using incorrect customs certificates.

The team closed down the warehouse and collected some sugar samples for tests but then went silent until the company directors camped at their offices for the results.

According to the lawyer, the results were doctored to achieve an ulterior motive given that Kebs had earlier tested the sugar and found it safe.

He claimed that the company directors had been receiving threats and intimidation from Kebs officials who wanted them to confirm that their sugar was poisoned and unfit for human consumption.

The company wants the court to restrain the Government from destroying its sugar. Alternatively, it wants to be allowed to refine the sugar if the Government insists it has impurities.

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Siezed SugarLandmark Freight Services LtdKRAKEBS