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Agonising wait for compensation after hit-and-run

COUNTIES
By Edwin Cheserek | September 7th 2013
 Mrs Leah Longure points at the scars her son Jacob Ebei sustained on his head and chest when he was knocked down by a government car in 1997. [PHOTO: PETER OCHIENG/ STANDARD]

 

By Edwin Cheserek

Eldoret,KENYA; More than 11 years have gone by since Leah Longure, a widow, won a court battle against the government.

Her son Jacob Ebei had been hit by a government vehicle as he walked to a nursery school on the Iten-Eldoret road in 1997.

Ebei sustained severe bruises and cuts on the face, while his ribs were injured. He lost consciousness for about half an hour.

Mrs Longure filed a case against the government at the magistrate’s court in Eldoret through Kimaru Kiplagat and Company advocates. The court found the accident was caused by the driver’s negligence, who had been speeding without regard for pedestrians.

The family filed the suit through lawyer Luka Kimaru, now a High Court judge, while the government was represented by then Attorney General Amos Wako.

In June 2002, the court, through chief magistrate Solomon Wamwayi, ruled in favour of Longure’s family.

“I do award the plaintiff Sh60,000 as general damages for pain and suffering,” the court ruled.

The court further ordered that the victim be paid Sh1,300 as special damages, costs and interest at the rate of 14 per cent a year.

The government was also ordered to pay Sh26,540 as costs of the suit.

The government did not appeal the ruling and neither has it compensated the victim. The award has now accrued an interest of more than Sh190,000.

In April, the Office of the Attorney General, through one Gabriel Kamu, wrote to the family’s lawyer asking for copies of documents of the case and certificate of order against the government to facilitate settlement. The required copies were provided, but the family is still awaiting payment.

Protest letters

“We have exhausted our resources in pursuing the case, including writing several letters to the AG’s office asking for compensation,’’ says Mrs Longure.

Since her husband died, she said, she has been unable to raise money to follow-up the matter.

Mr Amos Songok, the family’s lawyer, said he has written more than 10 protest letters to the State Law Office over the matter.

“We have explored all possible avenues to get the amount the court awarded the victim in vain. Our client is on the verge of losing the little hope she still has,’’ he said.

 “We, however, have firm and mandatory instructions to institute the necessary legal proceedings against the government if the judgment will not be enforced in the next three weeks.’’

An officer at the Attorney Generals Litigation Councils in Eldoret said they had sent the required documents to the head office.

“We have done our part and it is now up to the head office, which has taken over the matter,’’ he said.

Recurring pain

He however said the process could have taken long because the documents need to be verified before the Solicitor General approves payment.

Longure is now appealing to Attorney General Githu Muigai to intervene so that her family can get justice.

Ebei, who is now 20, has recovered from the injuries. He however has permanent scars in his head and some bruises in the chest.

“Sometimes he complains of pains that recur from the scars but we have no money to take him to hospital for a check-up or x-ray,’’ said the mother.

Ebei, who is in form two at GK Magereza Secondary School in Eldoret, has been in and out of class because of the pain that still persists.

Longure says Ebei could have been in form three but repeated a class because he missed his exams after he fell ill.

The family lives as squatters at Boma estate in Eldoret that was recently demolished after a private developer secured a court order to evict the illegal inhabitants.


 

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