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Why jailing Kilifi DG Saburi could be a tall order

By Wainaina Ndung'u | April 7th 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said this morning he prefers a hefty jail term for Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi for endangering Kenyans’ lives by failing to self-quarantine as required by health laws. But the President laments that it might not happen after all.

The odds appear against a jail term for the DG (pictured) who is accused of failing to self-quarantine after a visit to Germany just as coronavirus was starting to have a toll in the country.

He was arrested last week after completing a forced quarantine and being ruled out of danger and is currently in custody awaiting charges.

Although the president told three Gikuyu radio stations that he wished a jail term of over 10 years for Saburi; it would be a tall order based on a variety of factors.

Top among those is that he could only be prosecuted under the Kenya Subsidiary Legislation 2020 – The Legal Notice No 46 under the Public Health Act (Prevention, Control, and Suppression of Covid 19) Rules 2020.

The rules were gazetted on April 3, 2020, by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and provides penalties for those escaping from isolation and quarantine.

Kenyan courts have ruled in the past that laws cannot be applied retrogressively.

The rules also provide a maximum fine of Sh20,000 or an imprisonment of six months or both and those committing offences of continuing nature are liable for further fines of Sh1,000 for each day the offence continues.

The President told the Gikuyu language radio stations that he had ordered the arrest of the DG for being negligent and endangering other Kenyans.

“How a leader could had jetted back and carelessly went about infecting Kenyans in the Coast and Nairobi,” posed the president.

Uhuru’s spoke through three radio stations affiliated to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Royal Media Services (RMS) and Mediamax in their morning shows.

He described the Coronavirus pandemic as a threat to world economies but said the government was more concerned about stopping the irreversible loss of lives.

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