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Linda Okello challenges ‘scantily dressed’ charge by her employer, the police

By Kamau Muthoni | June 4th 2014

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Industrial Court in Nairobi will next week mention a case filed by police Corporal Linda Okello challenging proceedings instituted against her by her bosses over her clothing in which it will be known if it will continue or be dropped.

This is after the court Wednesday heard that she had been acquitted off the charges by the police disciplinary panel after filing the case under a certificate of urgency and the court ordering that the orderly room proceedings presided over by Chief Inspector of police Joseph Ndege be stayed.

“The application by the petitioner has collapsed but I do not have instructions on the petition. We can mention the case in a week’s time,” the court heard.

Before Industrial Court Judge Justice Maureen Onyango, Linda through her lawyer Prof Tom Ojienda lamented that she was being subjected to unfair and unreasonable enquiry wherein she was charged with the offence of appearing on duty untidy in her clothing contrary to the national police service act.

The particulars of her offence before the police disciplinary team on 19th May was that at around 1pm on April 26 204 at in Kiambu County at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) she appeared scantily dressed in police uniform. The charge continued to read that she was caught by a camera wearing a tight fitting skirt which caused a lot of hype public debate in electronic, social and print media.

In the case where Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo is a respondent, the court heard that the charges in the sheet were not corresponding but conflicting. Ojienda termed them as, “defective and was only meant to humiliate Linda.”

Ojienda added that the four witnesses that were summoned to give evidence against her did not tender any evidence that would make Linda culpable of the alleged offence. He said that the witness’s statements before the enquiry exonerated Linda from any wrong doing.

“The Officer in Charge of Police Division in Kiambu (OCPD) Stephen Ngetich who was the complainant was not present and he was not summoned by the presiding officer to appear nor was his presence explained and thus there was no basis of charging the petitioner. The presiding officer failed to dismiss or acquit her nor did they tell her when to expect her verdict,” said Ojienda in the petition.

The court heard that on 19th May she was put on her defence and was to appear on 26th of the same month for hearing. All these are alleged to have been only to taint her image and that the punishment that would be occasioned against her was either to have her reprimanded, salary increment stopped for a specified time, reduction in rank or be dismissed from service.

“The decision to put her on defence was erroneous, excessive, unlawful and not supported by evidence,” he said.

In a sworn affidavit, the lady who says that she has been in the force  for 11 years now told the court that on 26 and 27 April she was to ensure that there was security and control traffic at the KCB rally.

Linda says that the OCPD had never raised any issue about her dressing mode and that she only got calls on 27 about her photo which she says was computer generated.

The court heard that she was summoned the next day and was booked by sergeant Muteti on the Occurrence Book for disciplinary action. She was also ordered to bring with her the skirt she was wearing by Ngetich in which she says that her boss found it in order but was asked to go for a pair of trousers from the quarter master.

She added that the OB indicated that she appeared on duty untidy and dirty in person, arms, clothing and in equipment.

“ I have been a police officer for the 11 years during which period I have maintained a clean record with no disciplinary issue and the unsubstantiated charge was only meant to cause embarrassment , humiliation, indignity and mental anguish which I have to endure  ever since I was booked for disciplinary action,” Linda said in her affidavit.

Linda told the court that Chief Inspector Mwarigha had declined to preside over the orderly petition room against her as he saw no grounds warranting the disciplinary action.

“The only crime was to dress in the uniform issued to me by the force quartermaster in 2003 and which I have worn from time to time without my superiors raising issues until now,” the document before the court read.

Linda was seeking to have the proceedings against her to be quashed, that the court to bar the police bosses from transferring her and her superiors be barred from punishing her for the alleged charges.

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