Karebe mine deaths: Protest against plan to drop case

A view of the entrance to a tunnel at Karebe Gold Mining Company in Chesame, Tinderet Constituency of Nandi County on January 24, 2023, after operations were halted following the death of three miners.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) want the murder case against 10 suspects linked to the blast that killed three gold miners in Nandi escarpment terminated to allow further investigation into the incident that left six other miners injured.

DPP Noordin Haji, through state counsel Beatrice Otieno, told a court in Kapsabet that the State wishes to terminate the case, a move that was opposed by the legal team from Karebe Gold Mine Company, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCR) and the victims' lawyer. They termed it abuse of office and denial to justice.

There was a heated argument between the State counsel and lawyers representing Karebe, the KNCR and the victims who demanded certification from the ODPP to have the case terminated to enable them challenge the decision in the High court.

The lawyers Arbiner Mango and Jacob Ngwele for Karebe company, Festus Mbati and Brian Olang for KNCR and the victims asked Kapsabet Chief Magistrate Samuel Mokua to dismiss the appeal by ODPP and allow the families of the victims to access justice.

They promised to institute private prosecution and move to High Court and have the 10 suspects made to face the law.

The suspects Alfred Magut, Simion Cheruiyot, Henry Ruto, Wilson Tigoi, Philemon Too, Shadrack Milelei, Daniel Kiplagat, Kennedy Kurgat, Zakayo Korir and Hillary Kipchirchir have not been formally charged after they were released on sh200,000 bond or cash bail of sh100,000 each.

They appeared in court two weeks ago but they were not formally charged as committal documents were yet to be received from the ODPP.

Mr Mokua promised to deliver ruling virtually on April 11 2023 since is he is proceeding on, decision that was agreed by legal teams from both sides.

He however directed that the suspects continue reporting to Chemase police station weekly until the Court makes decision.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI)   had asked the court to have the suspect remain in custody due to heightened tension in Chemase area following the blast that killed the miners.

The widows of the slain workers claimed they have received threats on their lives unless they agreed to have the murder issue solved locally.

The KHRC had earlier written to DPP on the status of a case where suspects are charged over the blast that killed three miners last month at Kerebe on the Nandi escarpment in Tinderet constituency.

“What is the current position of the file that was forwarded to the ODPP for perusal, directions and further action in court? Why is it taking too long to charge?” demanded Brian Olang’ –Programme Associate in charge of Human Rights Monitoring and Rapid Response in a letter dated 28th February 2023.

But the KHRC had asked the ODPP to hasten the process of formally charging the suspects.

“As a matter of utmost urgency, we implore your office to act and bring the perpetrators of the heinous offense to book,” said the commission.

Chemelil/Chemase ward representative Martin Douglas has demanded for Justice to the families and called for a lasting solution to rivalry over mining rights.

“All that the community needs are justice to be done and ensure that a similar incident does not occur in near future,” said the ward rep.

According to Kerebe Mining company its workers were killed instantly when a wall that was built to prevent the mine from flooding was blasted by miners from the rival group.

According to the Company Chairman Joshua Choge the Management is committed to solving land disputes without resorting to acts of lawlessness.

But the rival company the Nandi/chemase has claimed they have a license to carry out mining activities in the disputed land.

Kerebe has been given exclusive gold mining at Nandi escarpment for 25 years, through a license awarded by former Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes.


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