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Alcohol trader wants Uhuru to pay for losses

By Kibiwott Koross | July 13th 2015

A businessman whose property was destroyed by "hired goons" in the campaign against second-generation alcoholic drinks now wants compensation from the Government.

This comes as most traders claim that their rivals are taking advantage of President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to destroy their businesses. On Wednesday last week, operations at the multi-billion-shilling Keroche Breweries were paralysed the whole day as the management thwarted an attempt to raid it. The company's CEO Tabitha Karanja said the move was a political war on the company.

John Wamagatha, whose two-storey building was set ablaze by rowdy youths in Dagoretti, Nairobi, has written to the President seeking compensation.

Mr Wamagatha said more than 200 armed youths descended on his business premises and burnt it down as they looted the property.

Wamagatha is demanding Sh4million compensation from President Kenyatta and the arrest of the youths who, according to him, are well known in the area.

He said the gang broke into shops that did not sell alcohol and looted wares. They later made away with doors, windows, tables and chairs as the owners ran for safety.

"They robbed various businesses unrelated to liquor trade. This is according to the number of reports recorded at the Dagoretti Police Post. We demand their arrest and prosecution as well as compensation for the damage we suffered," said Wamagatha in his letter.

He said the youths were threatening the traders with unknown consequences should any of them get arrested. "The arsonists and their sponsors are well known and their names have been forwarded to the police and they are yet to be arrested," he said.

He said he had been informed the police were under pressure to drop the case.

Thogoto Chief Richard Kariuki confirmed the arson attack and maintained that the raiders were still at large. "Wamagatha's property was destroyed though I was not around on that day. I am sure the police are doing their investigations. It is now beyond my control," he said on phone.

Meanwhile, the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse has said it will carry out investigations into the matter. "During a raid, our officers identify themselves. We will be investigating who was behind the raid and if they are indeed criminals, we will make sure they are arrested," said the agency's Chair John Mututho.

He added that the authority will do all they can to ensure that illicit brews are kicked out of the market.

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