Kenya Embassy Worker Fired By Ambassador Under Mysterious Cicumstances

njengas dining room at the garage   njenga collecting his eating stuff from garage  new brown wooden fence at residence “Triangula” land grabbed (together with tree) and new boarder in background A side view of the Ambassador’s residence

Mr. Njenga Muirani, a Kenyan national who has been working at the residence of Ambassador Purity Muhindi as a gardener, has been sacked from his job under circumstances that have so far remained mysterious.

Speaking to Kenya Stockholm Blog, Mr. Njenga said that an Embassy official phoned him last month as he was working at the Ambassador’s residence and asked him to report to the office after work. When he arrived at the Office, he was handed over a letter of “Termination of Employment” without any explanation.

The letter, Ref: KES/S-90/233(2) dated 30th October 2006 says: “This is to inform (you) that after careful review of the Mission operations, it has been decided to terminate your employment with effect from 1st November, 2006”.

Mr. Njenga told KSB that when he received the letter, he was shocked. “I wasn’t given any notice while the Embassy did not give any reason for my sacking”, he told KSB.

On the fateful evening when Mr. Njenga was asked to report to the Embassy after work, the Kenyan told KSB that a white man came to the compound and told him that he had been sent to survey the residence because his company will be taking care of gardening. The white man told Mr. Njenga that he had won a contract for the job.

“We were with the driver, and we were preparing to take away taka taka (garbage). The Mzungu (Swahili for white person) told me that he had a small company which was going to take over gardening work at the residence”, Njenga said. Mr. Njenga believes that he was sacked because he knew about a land grabbing scandal at the residence which the Embassy wanted to cover up.

In his appointment letter signed by J.V Awuor, Mr. Njenga was informed that “Your duties will include keeping the gardener (read garden) clean at all times. You may also be called upon to clear gardens of other home based officers when it is deemed necessary”.

Before Mr. James Kiboi died in a house inferno in Norway in September this year, Mr. Njenga told KSB that he worked at the late Kiboi’s residence on several occasions up to eleven o’clock in the night per day but that after the death of the diplomat, the Embassy refused to pay him his dues that amounted to 10.000 kr.

“Kiboi’s residence was extremely bushy. After working on the compound for several days, the Embassy refused to pay me because Kiboi was dead”, he said.

The Kenyan told KSB that Mr. Kiboi asked him to report to the office on Monday September 11th so that he could be paid but that Mr. Kiboi died on Sunday September 10th, a day before he could pick up his money. The failure by the Embassy to pay Mr. Njenga his cash has raised questions about Embassy protocol because the Kenyan had worked and blocking his payment because Kiboi was dead was very strange. 

“Now, the Embassy says that they do not know anything about the work I did at Kiboi’s residence and that they will not pay me”, he said, adding that what the new Ambassador was doing was unjust and illegal especially here in Sweden.

“Kiboi’s neighbors had apparently been complaining for months that the drive-way near Kiboi’s residence had become too bushy. When I started work at the compound, one of the neighbors’ borrowed me an electric saw because there was none. They were happy that at last, the drive way was being cleared”, he told KSB

The Kenyan said that one of the scissors he used to cut overgrowth at Kiboi’s villa is still at the residence because he has not had time to collect it. “Who is going to help me recover my money at the Embassy, now that Kiboi is dead?”, he posed.

Apart from his abrupt sacking without notice and failure by the Embassy to pay for work he had done at Kiboi’s villa, Mr. Njenga said that the new Ambassador has been treating him with impunity, in the process, denying him basic facilities which he used to enjoy when Mr. Daniel Mukiri Kinyanjui lived at the residence.

“I used to have access to the kitchen to drink tea or coffee during work-break. When Mrs Muhindi came in, she immediately blocked these services and said that it was better if I carried my own food stuff”, he said.

Mr. Njenga said that after the new Ambassador gave restrictive instructions, he began carrying a flask of hot water or coffee and other foodstuff while he was also forced to retire for tea-breaks in the dusty garage because the alternative could have been to drink his tea or eat his food in “open air” at the compound. “When the cold weather set in, I started freezing and I have been wondering what would happen during the sub zero temperatures of winter”, he said. 

When KSB visited the Ambassador’s garage in Nacka together with Mr. Njenga to assess the magnitude of his predicament under the new Ambassador, the situation was mind-boggling to say the least. Njenga’s flask, tea-cup, sugar, spoon and other paraphernalia were still placed on top of a tiny chair in the dusty garage and it was difficult to understand how Mr. Njenga managed to put up with the dirty conditions during his work-breaks.

During the reign of Mr. Kinyanjui, Mr. Njenga used to have access to the toilet. But when the new boss moved in, Mr. Njenga’s right to use the toilet was quickly withdrawn, forcing him to defecate in a plastic bag used for garden waste before carrying his waste to the garbage dump. Njenga told KSB that carrying his own shit in a plastic bag was the worst part of his dilemma which inflicted in him serious psychological damage. Disposal of human waste at any location is illegal in Sweden while according to the Swedish labour laws, workers are entitled to access to a toilet while on duty.

“I have been treated like a dog for reasons I don’t know. My dining room has been the garage and my toilet a plastic bag. Now, I have been sacked without notice and without any reason being given”, he told KSB with a lot of bitterness. 

Mr. Njenga says that his abrupt sacking has plunged him into a deep economic crisis because he had quit his employment in Stockholm to take up his new job at the Embassy. “I left my job because I was proud that at last, I was going to work for my country and for my own Ambassador”, he said.

The circumstances of the sacking together with the manner in which Ambassador Muhindi has been treating Mr. Njenga has shocked many Kenyans who have heard about the story. Last week, the Ambassador refused to answer questions from KSB, saying that the questions should first be written down and mailed to her before she could respond.

Mr. Njenga believes that his abrupt sacking is linked to a piece of land that was allegedly grabbed through a dirty conspiracy at the Embassy and transferred to the Ambassador’s neighbor in a shady deal which only the Embassy might be able to explain.

Mr. Njenga became suspicious when a company arrived at the residence and started pulling down the barbed wire fence at the compound in an operation that ended with part of the land at the residence being transferred to Mr. Bo, the neighbor.

When the operation began, Mr. Njenga informed KSB that there was something very strange that was going on at the residence and that was linked to the fence. At this point, KSB advised Mr. Njenga to keep his eyes open and ears on the ground for any further development. The operation was so neat that after it was completed, a casual view of the Ambassador’s compound could not reveal anything strange. As the day of departure of  Ambassador Kinyanjui came to a close, the situation on the ground also continued to change rapidly. 

“The barbed wire fence that has been separating land between the Ambassador’s residence and his neighbor for years was removed while the barbed wire fence that has been separating the residence from the shores of a lake where the compound ends had also been removed”, said Mr. Njenga.

When KSB visited the compound on Sunday November 12th, there was no fence between the residence and the lake. Although the Ambassador was at home, she refused to show her face because KSB camera man was video-filming. The Ambassador hid herself behind the door and talked to Njenga through a tiny opening on the door. Mr. Njenga told her that he had no money to pay his rent after being fired.

After the removal of the two fences, a new wooden fence was constructed half way between the residence and the neighbor. A day after Mr. Kinyanjui left for Kenya, Njenga told KSB that a line of tiny trees was planted to extend the fence from the new wooden fence up to the lake but not in a straight line.

A quick survey by KSB showed that the new “tree fence” curves sharply, eating into the Ambassador’s compound thereby adding a chunk of a “triangular” piece of land on Bo’s compound. The consequence is that a tree which used to stand inside the Ambassador’s compound now stands inside the neighbors’ compound. The tree is the most telling sign that the boundary at the compound has changed.

When Njenga reported on duty after the new boarder arrangement, he ignored the new boundary of trees and continued working at the compound as usual. It is at this point that Mr. Bo popped up and told him that the ground upon which he was working was his compound. Njenga was surprised but maintained his cool. It is at this point that Njenga informed KSB that there is a possible case of land grabbing at the Ambassador’s residence.  

Njenga said that when he asked Bo how the piece of land had suddenly become his, Mr. Bo had no immediate and plausible explanation but said that the Ambassador gave him the land because “he had fixed the fence”.

Being an intelligent Kenyan, Mr. Njenga wondered how a whole government could have donated a piece of land for the fixing of a fence that had no visible problems. He also wondered whether the government was so broke that it left fence-fixing matters to a private Swedish citizen in exchange for a piece land. Mr. Njenga said that previously he watched as a tractor pulled down the old fence to give room for the new arrangement although he didn’t know that boarders were changing.

When KSB surveyed the land, it was clear that changes had been made on the fence while it was also clear that part of the Ambassador’s compound had been transferred to his neighbor.

Mr. Njenga believes that Mr. Bo must have informed the new Ambassador that he was getting suspicious about the boundary changes. When interviewed, Njenga said that Mr. Bo planted the trees which ate into the residence “too early” because he believes that the deal was organized in a way that he was not supposed to see the new trees or notice the new boundary because he was supposed to have been fired earlier.

“I believe that Mr. Bo thinks that I am very stupid while the Ambassador thinks that I still don’t know anything about the deal”, he said. His theory about his abrupt sacking is that the Ambassador thinks that if he didn’t get the sack immediately, the matter will eventually come out.

“It is too late because I am already sounding the alarm bells”, said Njenga. “Kenyans need to know the truth and if land has been grabbed and sold by the Ambassador, the truth needs to come out”, he said adding that he is patriotic and should not be made to pay for corruption at the Embassy. 

News about Mr. Njenga’s sacking together with the presence of KSB crew at the compound of the Ambassador swept Stockholm like bush fire. After KSB left the compound, the Ambassador went on a “phoning frenzy” and within an hour after KSB crew packed equipment to get back to base, both Mr. Njenga and KSB’s hot line were jammed with calls from curious Kenyans seeking to find out “the latest mleto” (hot news) from the residence of “His Excellency”.

According to sources close to the Embassy, the Ambassador began by calling key Embassy staff who subsequently used their Kenyan contacts to try and sniff what was happening before relaying any information back to the Ambassador. The Kenyan congregation at Baggarmossen, where a top Embassy official has set up a church together with other Kenyan wafarisai, (Church faithful) was the first to get wind that something juicy was cooking at the residence as they remained immersed in prayer.  

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Njenga’s sacking will, most likely shock many Kenyans. Possibilities that land at the Ambassador’s residence may have been grabbed and sold could become one of the biggest scandals to have hit the Kenyan Embassy in Stockholm since Kamukunji, an underground pub that the Embassy used to run illegally, was closed down by Swedish authorities in 1995.

Mrs Hellen Opwapo, the Chairperson of ODM Scandinavia, condemned the sacking of Mr. Njenga and said that the Party will demand his reinstatement. She told KSB that ODM-Scandinavia will demand for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding alleged land grabbing at the residence. “If true, ODM-Scandinavia will demand that the land be returned immediately and the culprits brought to face justice”, she said.

ODM-Scandinavia has taken contacts with Mr. Njenga to investigate the circumstances under which he was sacked with a view to opening a campaign for his reinstatement.

Okoth Osewe:

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