Hotel to pay Chinese tourist Sh417m over death of wife

Justice Francis Gikonyo ruled that the hotel owed the couple a duty of care and security. [iStockphoto]

The High Court has awarded a Chinese tourist more than Sh417 million as compensation for the murder of his wife in a Kenyan hotel.

Justice Francis Gikonyo ordered Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara to pay Dong Yi 21.5 million Chinese Yuan (KSh417 million).

In addition to this, the hotel is to pay Sh727,000 to cater for funeral expenses of his wife Luo Jinli.

Justice Gikonyo said that the hotel owed the couple a duty of care and security.

“Fighting in restaurants is not strange or unforeseeable. Some enterprises place workers trained on security at strategic positions just in case of any security lapse, who also keep on finding out whether the guests are okay. Nothing of the sort was alluded to by the defendant,” said Gikonyo.

According to the judge, use of knives meant for eating was weaponry and a foreseeable risk.

Risk areas

He said that the hotel ought to have continually identified the risk areas and prescribed appropriate measures to mitigate.

“The defendant did not take reasonable measures to ensure the security of the plaintiff and the deceased in the restaurant,” he stated.

On August 8, 2016, Dongyi and his wife Luo Jinli checked in at the Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara.

The mission by the two lovebirds was to enjoy the flora and fauna that Kenya has to offer.

They spent their day with a tour guide Bai Jiang. However, an altercation between Dong, Luo and one Lee Changping ended in a tragedy.

Dong said they arrived at the hotel in the afternoon and their tour guide helped them settle in.

They then went for a buffet lunch, then to the park for the game drive.

At 7pm, Dong and Luo went to have dinner at the Keekorok’s restaurant. 

Dong said the hotel was crowded with tourists and some people in black who he believed were staff.

The two then headed straight to their table which had been reserved by their tour guide.

While at the restaurant, a verbal altercation occurred between the couple and Lee, a tour guide of another group of tourists.

According to Dong, he was the first to go pick food. He then saw his wife in a confrontation with a stranger.  The exchange between them happened in Chinese.

According to Dong, he went back to inquire why the person was quarrelling his wife. In the heat of the moment, Lee left the table and returned with a steak knife from one of the tables and stabbed the two.

Unfortunately, Dong’s wife later died while he (Dong) was fighting for his life in Nairobi where he was rushed for medical attention.

Dong did not leave the altercation issue die. On August 5, 2019, he sued KeeKorok, arguing that the hotel was negligent as Lee used its cutlery to injure him and kill his wife.

His lawyer Conrad Maloba told the court that Lee was charged but his client did not follow the case as he was also fighting for his life.

Justice Francis Gikonyo heard that Luo worked as a security manager in Beijing before her death. The court heard that Dong is yet to receive compensation from any insurance following Luo’s death.

According to Dong, the hotel’s staff ought to have intervened. At the same time, he argued, if there were security martials around, then Lee would not have done the unthinkable act.

In opposition, the hotel said it was not responsible for what happened.

Steak knife

Its star witness, Joseph Leshornat, told the court that the steak knife was used for feeding and not a weapon.

He, however, admitted that the hotel does not place security officers at the dinning hall.

Leshornat blamed Dong for the altercation. In his submissions, Dong argued the attacker was at the hotel with its permission. At the same time, he said, the hotel ought to have been reasonable to see that its visitors would be safe.

According to him, Keekorok ought to have foreseen some risk that one guest might assault another.

According to the hotel, the couple’s tour guide Bai Jiang and Lee were solely to blame for the death of Luo.

It argued that a duty of care did not extend to actions by third parties.

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