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Scars of war: Court awards former soldier Sh30 million

 Moses Etyang was among Kenyan soldiers who were deployed to Afmadow, Somalia, to fight Al Shabaab terrorists under Amisom. [iStockphoto]

Senior Private Moses Etyang put his life at risk to protect Kenya, but he was unceremoniously kicked out of the military.

Etyang bears scars of war which his seniors ignored and denied him a chance to be treated at the Forces Memorial Hospital.

And as if fate had conspired against him, the 17th Battalion Kenya Riffles ranger was deserted by his wife and children.

Etyang was among Kenyan soldiers who were deployed to Afmadow, Somalia, to fight Al Shabaab terrorists under Amisom.

After he got involved in an accident during patrol, he was forced to hang his boots and go home with nothing.

Justice Jemima Wanza awarded Etyang Sh30 million after finding that he was neglected at the war field, which led to a permanent disability.

Justice Wanza said the manner in which Etyang was treated was cruel and cold-hearted. He was jailed for 42 days before he was dismissed.

"The petitioner who received the New Constitutional Medal (ME2A) and served in Amisom III in Somalia as his last mission cannot be condemned to a life of misery and indignity due to acts and omissions of the first respondent (Chief of Defence Forces). His condition was attributed to injuries sustained protecting the borders of our country and or in pursuit of the petitioner's interests in Amisom III in Somalia," said the judge.

If the Chief of Defence Forces and Attorney General do not appeal the High Court verdict, Etyang will go down in history as getting the highest award from the court for unfair dismissal while on Amisom operation.

"The petitioner had a wife and children who ran away due to his violent tendencies. The children need upkeep by their father. He is now an invalid requiring full-time care. The taxpayers should take care of the petitioner and not his aging father as the 1st respondent failed in its duty of care towards its own serviceman," said Justice Wanza.

Etyang was enlisted into KDF on September 1, 2008. After months of gruelling training, he was recruited on March 27, 2009, and posted to the 15th Battalion Kenya Rifles and later to the 17th Kenya Rifles where he was deployed as an infantry soldier.

Between 2013 and 2014, he served in Amisom III in Afmadow, Somalia. However, an accident in 2014 while he was on patrol changed his life totally. He had some injuries on the occipital, a region that feeds the brain with signals for vision and colour.

 Justice Jemima Wanza awarded Moses Etyang Sh30 million after finding that he was neglected at the war field. [iStockphoto]

His then-boss, a Major Shangata, thought that the injuries were not severe enough for him to get medical attention. He only received first aid and was ordered back to the battlefield.

At the camp, he started experiencing back pains and could not walk properly and his request for treatment fell on deaf ears.

He also started having severe headaches, dreams, and sleepwalking which he reported to the doctor in the camp but nothing was done.

However, his health kept deteriorating. In the meantime, in 2015, the troop completed its mission and returned. It is then that the late Seargent Tigo advised that Eytang needed to be checked as he had memory loss and impaired judgment.

The former soldier told court that he was charged with desertion, and sentenced to 42 days. When he completed his sentence he was told to return his boots and go home.

The court heard the serviceman was denied treatment when he requested to go to Forces Memorial Hospital.

Eytang's father, Julius Etyang, told the court that it was the CDF's responsibility to ensure his son was taken care of until full recovery, instead, he was ordered to continue working.

The court heard that Etyang was discharged over Schizophrenia.

The CDF and Attorney General in their response told the court that Etyang was dismissed from service after he allegedly pleaded guilty to five counts.

Major Edwin Kibiru Muta swore a replying affidavit on behalf of the CDF.

He was slapped with 18 days salary deduction and 42 days jail term. This was in 2015. He then, after three years appeared in 2018 but he was ruled out by the medical board which found that he had schizophrenia, a condition that requires life-long treatment.

The board recommended 30 per cent compensation. This was Sh350,000. Eytang was in KDF for seven years and two months and had no disciplinary issues.

The ex-desert ranger told the court that he was tried and convicted without KDF bosses investigating what was happening to him.

At the same time, he submitted that during the disciplinary hearing, he was ambushed and was not allowed to either get evidence or call witnesses who would testify on his behalf.

According to his testimony, the employer had a duty to ensure that his working conditions were reasonable.

On the other hand, the CDF claimed that Etyang had previously been charged with drunkenness on March 31, 2012 and the matter was investigated by the military police who made a comprehensive report before the charges.

The court heard that Etyang also appeared with a witness on August 11, 2015, and the charges were read to him.

The KDF boss also told the court that he knew the redress mechanism but did not change the verdict of the commanding officer.

However, while faulting the CDF, Justice Wanza found that there was no investigation report attached to all the charge sheets.

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