Kenya: Covid-19 Hero - Airport Employee Yet to Resume a Year After Court Order

A Kenya Airways employee suspended on allegations of filming and sharing a video of a Chinese plane landing in Nairobi at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak is yet to resume duty a year after the High Court ordered his reinstatement.

Mr Gire Ali, an assistant security agent at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), is still waiting for approval from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

Lawyer Litty Kathurima told Justice Weldon Korir that the national carrier had lifted the suspension, but KAA was yet to give him access.

The denial of access had hampered efforts for an out-of-court settlement in a case Mr Ali had filed seeking protection from possible arrest and prosecution over the video that he shared online, she said.

In the viral video filmed on February 26 last year, a China Southern Airline plane is seen landing at JKIA with 239 passengers.

"There is a proposal to amicably and expeditiously resolve the matter. KAA was to give him airport's access and permit so that we can record the consent," said Ms Kathurima, who was holding brief for Mr Danstan Omari.

The court heard that negotiations were ongoing for Mr Ali to withdraw the case, which he filed in March last year complaining that he was being targeted for the video.

After filing the case, the court directed Kenya Airways to reinstate Mr Ali and also stopped security authorities from arresting or prosecuting him.

The suspension letter stated that the recording was contrary to provision 16.2 of the company's human resource (HR) policy manual.

Through Omari, Mr Ali stated that he witnessed the landing of the Chinese plane, which was contrary to communications by Kenya Airways that flights from China had been suspended due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mr Ali also indicated that the flight stayed unattended to for more than one hour and the only people in the vicinity were Chinese media crew, who were taking pictures using their phones "and recording everything".

After his shift was over at 9.30am, Mr Ali left for a two-day rest but between 2pm and 3pm, he received a call from unknown persons, saying he was urgently needed for questioning at the Kenya Airways corporate investigations office.

He ignored it since the caller did not share details.

Later, another caller threatened to raid his home if he did not follow the instructions and report to the KQ offices by 6pm.

Out of fear, Mr Ali went to Kahawa Wendani police station where he reported the matter and urged the officers to allow him to stay because he felt unsafe at home. They declined and instead gave him their contacts to call in case of anything.

The following day, he went to the Kenya Airways corporate investigations office where he was questioned for seven hours, from 11am to 5pm.

"The Kenya Airways seems to be keen on punishing the applicant for exposing to the nation a threat to their life as there was a directive from the same offices suspending aircraft from China from landing in Kenya," lawyer Omari stated.

Other than Kenya Airways, Mr Ali also sued the Director of Public Prosecution, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and the Attorney General.

He also listed the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Aviation Workers Union, The Institute of Huma Resource Management and Cabinet Secretaries for Health, Defence and Interior as interested parties.

The case will be mentioned on May 11, 2021 for the court to be informed about the outcome of the negotiations.

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