The Law Society of Kenya has said it will take up the Peter Otieno Otiang case following an expose on Citizen TV.
According to LSK President Nelson Havi, Stanley Hotel should consider an amicable settlement.
“I have heard the cries for help by and on behalf of Peter Odoyo. I apologize sincerely for the failure by the Advocate on record to respond to Peter. The Law Society of Kenya will take up the matter against Sarova Hotels,” Havi said.
Jimi Kariuki, the MD of Sarova Hotels & Resorts Kenya and Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) responded to Havi’s tweet saying:
“Sir, I watched Peter Otiang’s story tonight. I immediately recognized Peter as I was with Sarova during his service with us from 2000-2006. I am deeply saddened by what I saw. I learnt about the case through a call from the media. No excuse. We will settle this matter.”
The sentiments came barely hours after Citizen TV aired the story of Peter Otieno Otiang, a former Sarova Stanley chef who has been seeking justice for 15 years.
The 58-year-old intimated the pain he has had to live with after gradually losing his ability to walk following a spinal injury at work.
The father of five revealed that he has been in and out of court always remaining hopeful that there will be a final settlement to his case.
Besides seeking compensation, the former chef believes that surgery can restore his ability to walk again.
“Ombi langu ni kesi zote za 2005 ziishe, kesi imalizwe niweze kujitibu,” he said during the interview with Citizen TV.
At his Kariobangi home, he cannot move around unaided and may seem like a prisoner of his body, but he has not lost his skill.
He says he misses the kitchen and working with professional chefs: with, an apprentice, he can give guidance and still prepare his meals and with a proper wheelchair, he can move on his own.
His wife Carolyne has remained by his side despite the challenges they have faced as they seek justice.
“Wake wenzangu, si rahisi, lakini ni lazima uwe na utu na ubebe huu mzigo. Usimwone mtu amelemaa na ukamwacha,” she said.
Peter Otieno Otiang is a trained chef with a specialty in a la carte menus, designing menus and in bakery.
He was employed by the Stanley Sarova hotel in 2000 and came highly recommended.
However on February 26, 2005, a spinal injury while he was on duty at the potato station became the beginning of the end of his career.
“Nilibeba viazi na basket, kuweka kwa potato machine, nikawa locked between roof na wall. Shingo ilivurutwa chini na weight ya potato,” he said.
On April 26, 2006, he slipped and fell and was immediately taken to the Guru Nanak Hospital.
He stayed home for 7 days and when he went back to work, he revealed that he found his employer had not kept the record of his first injury in his file.
His condition started to deteriorate and he had to seek further medical attention at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
He took the matter to the Chief Magistrates Court under the Workmen’s Compensation Act that may apply in the event of an accident causing injury or death of a workman.
In the same year, his employer released him with earnings for his final 18 days amounting to Ksh.24,350.
What first presented as neck pains and weakness of the upper limbs, was revealed by X-rays to be cervical spondylosis, and nerve root compression on the right trunk.
It is at this point he and his family were forced to move to a one-roomed house in Kariobangi as the subsequent treatment was draining their resources.
His wife Carolyne became the sole breadwinner and now sells mandazis to earn a living. What followed were years of a civil suit, filed at the Milimani Law Courts.
His lawyers would often tell him that his file could not be traced but then it would reappear again: his case was taken up by Mwangi, Wahome and Co. Advocates.
However, in the 15 years since he began his quest for justice, his efforts have hit dead ends and because of his physical state as well as the cost and difficulty of going to court, he is usually represented in court by his wife and the lawyers.
“Our President, huku ghetto, si rahisi upate lawyer ambaye atakupigania ufike mahali fulani. Wengi si wazuri. Unaenda kuwaona hata kwa ofisi hawataki kukuona,” he said.
During the interview, he made a call to the two lawyers handling the case: he used his wife’s phone because calls from his own phone often went unanswered.
“Bwana ambani, mambo yangu imefika wapi?” he asked after the call was picked.
“Bwana Wahome, huyu ni Otiang’…uliniambia Monday nikupigie, kesi yangu imefika wapi?” he posed, but hardly two minutes had passed before the lawyer disconnected the call.
After the interview with Peter, Citizen TV reached out to the current management of the Sarova Stanley for comment.
The hotel confirmed that indeed the former chef had been employed at the hotel from April 17,2000 to May 19, 2006 when he resigned.
“The company paid him terminal dues including salary and house allowance, 2 leave days calculated I pro-rata and gratuity for the period of service,” the statement reads.
The consolidated matter was listed for mention on June 4, 2018.
According to the Sarova management, the case had been set for full hearing but the plaintiff did not present the witnesses to court.
“He made an application dated January 22, 2018 seeking that the court to allow him to produce treatment notes from hospital. Sarova opposed the application. The Plaintiff has not taken any step in prosecuting the case since then,” the statement adds.
However, Peter says the lawyers have been taking him back and forth.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and court activities significantly impacted, Peter sees no end in sight.
“Nina uhakika kama Sardar Vorah (deceased MD Sarova Group) angekuwa hapa angenifuata hata kama ni hapa ghetto angenifuata hangewacha niende niwaste. Waajiri wafuatilie waajiri wakiumia wasiwache waende waste. Daktari waliniambia hali yangu ingetibiwa. Wajue wafanyikazi wana dhamana, wasikufe na shida zinaweza kutibiwa,” he said.
Report by Kadzoh Gunga and Dorcas Wangira
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