Mau Mau victims accuse State of blocking Sh2.8bn UK compensation

mau mau

Mau Mau fighters leave their village for revenge after their relatives were massacred during a rebellion in December 1955. PHOTO | COURTESY

Mau Mau veterans have moved to the High Court to bar the government from interfering with ongoing negotiations for Sh2.8 billion compensation by the British government over torture during the colonial period.  

The British government agreed in 2013 to pay Sh2.8 billion (£19.9 million) as compensation but Mau Mau Original Trust now says the government of Kenya has been reluctant or has refused to fully engage in talks and provide modalities for the compensation.  

Through lawyer John Swaka, the group says the delays have seen many of the veterans die poor without receiving their share of the billions.

“Furthermore intended negotiations on the compensation of other Mau Mau have stalled for the past few years despite the best efforts of the Petitioner,” he said in the petition.

Justice Anthony Mrima certified the case as urgent and directed Mr Swaka to serve the Attorney general with the court papers and respond within 21 days. The case will be mentioned on June 20.

In 2012, three Mau Mau veterans were allowed by the High Court in Britain to pursue damages for abuses they suffered during the rebellion in the 1950s.

A year later, the British government agreed to compensate the victims and apologised for the atrocities.

The then foreign secretary William Hague even made a statement to the House of Commons, expressing that the government “sincerely regrets that these abuses took place”.

The veterans claim that the government has instead chosen to remain silent on their sufferings despite the expression of willingness by the British government to compensate them.

“As a result of the foregoing the Mau Mau victims and their families continue to wallow in poverty years after the independence,” Mr Sakwa said in the petition.

Mr Joseph Ngacha Karani, a Mau Mau veteran, says he has continuously sought the government’s assistance as they try to get the funds to cover what they lost ages ago.

“The Petitioner posits that they have been consistent and vigilant in asking for restitution and compensation all through since independence was achieved and should therefore be granted the orders they seek,” Mr Karani said.

The veterans also want the court to further provide the process by which the compensation will be distributed directly to the Mau Mau fighters and their families.