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Gitu Kahengeri: Not all war heroes will get cash

By Eric Wainaina and Philip Muasya

Kenya: Mau Mau association chairman Gitu Kahengeri has said not all freedom fighters are eligible to get a share of the compensation from British government.

Mr Kahengeri said the Sh2.6 billion payout announced by British Foreign Secretary William Hague last week will only benefit 5,228 people who are registered with the association, which filed the case.

He said the money was given to the association members who sued for torture. The association, he said, did not file the suit on behalf of everyone, but individuals.

He told off a section of Mau Mau and church leaders who have accused his group of not including all freedom fighters in the list of those who would be compensated.

Some have asked the compensation to be halted, claiming that most of those on the list of beneficiaries are former home guards.

“This is not blanket compensation. It is for the people who were enjoined in the case which we filled against Britain and gave evidence of torture and other forms of mistreatment,” Kahangeri told The Standard on Tuesday.

He noted over the years, they have been asking fellow freedom fighters to join the association but most of them declined.

He said the money was not to compensate anyone who participated in the fighting of freedom but only those who underwent torture in the hands of British soldiers.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding among Kenyans who do not know who were being compensated and why. Some leaders want subdivision of money be halted, which is not possible because legitimate beneficiaries are there and they are known by Britain and our lawyers,” he said.

He added those who are not contented with the matter are free to file new suits against Britain and demand compensation.

Suffer brutality

His assertions, however, have not quelled demand for payment from war veterans.

In Kitui County, freedom fighters Tuesday protested demanding to be included in the list of those to be compensated. They faulted Kahengeri for locking them out of the deal. Led by Maingi Maliti, 96, they requested the Government to intervene and vet beneficiaries so that only genuine war heroes can benefit.

“We are afraid that we will be shortchanged yet we suffered brutality, torture and enslavement for this country,” said Maliti, who claims to have been physically tortured and jailed by colonialists.

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