Kenya: KQ Staff Suspended Over Chinese Plane Video Seeks Protection

A Kenya Airways employee working at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), who was suspended on allegations of filming and sharing a video of a China Southern Airlines plane landing in Nairobi, will file a legal suit seeking protection.

Mr Gire Ali will be filing the suit through lawyer Danstan Omari at the High Court in Milimani.

The lawyer denied that his client recorded the viral video of the plane landing at JKIA on February 26 carrying 239 passengers from China, which has been hit by the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

"He has been receiving threats and has reported the matter at Kahawa Wendani Police Station. We will be moving to court to seek protection," said lawyer Omari.

CHINESE JOURNALISTS

He further revealed that the plane, upon landing, was received by a group of Chinese journalists, a move he termed irregular according to aviation rules.

"At the time of landing, my client got suspicious because the first people to receive the plane were five Chinese journalists. They recorded the video," claimed the lawyer.

In his suspension letter, Mr Ali was accused of being involved in the recording of the video.

The letter, signed by Chief Human Resources Officer Everlyne Munyoki, states that the recording was contrary to provision 16.2 of the company's human resource policy manual.

UPROAR OVER SUSPENSION

The letter sparked reactions from Kenyans on social media, with Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr saying that under Article 232 of the Constitution, Mr Ali should have been promoted and his boss fired.

"This order will be reversed by any court. Public interest is more important than management interests," said lawyer Kilonzo.

The landing of the plane led to an uproar by Kenyans and prompted at least three court petitions by the Law Society of Kenya, two doctors (Dr Joseph Mithika Mwenda and Dr Thiakanu Cyprian Mwirabua) and a lawyer (Kounah Ochieng).

They all secured court orders suspending flights from China for 10 days because of the coronavirus concerns.

COURT ORDER

Justice James Makau, while issuing the restraining orders, said unless a conservatory order is issued, Kenyans risked being exposed to the deadly disease.

The petitioners had sued the Cabinet Secretaries for Health, Transport and Interior, Kenya Airports Authority and the Attorney-General.

They pointed out that the Chinese airline landed in Nairobi contrary to the global travel advisory issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in mitigating risks against the spread of Covid-19.

They also said the landing of the Chinese plane amidst coronavirus fears caused anxiety and psychological trauma among Kenyans.

The petitioners criticised the government's explanation that all the passengers on the Chinese plane were asked to self-quarantine. They termed the advice "reckless".

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