, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – “Train security guards all over the country then arm them. What is the point of having a guard that holds that metal detector yet they do not even know how to use it?” Ashleys Kenya Chief Executive Officer Terry Mungai posed, as the second day of the Westgate restoration public hearings took off.
Mungai added that some of the guards do not even have an idea what they are looking for, when they ask one to open their handbag or the boot of their cars.
“We are ready to go back (to Westgate) given the opportunity but my question is what we are going back to, a safer mall?” she pondered as she recounted her losses to members of the Westgate Restoration Committee.
The Ashleys CEO narrated of how her staff locked up the premises on the second floor after being saved on the fateful day only to return four days later to find their towels scattered all over the ground floor of the mall.
Like Mungai, Kenya International Sports General Manager Itzik Nissim advocated for the arming of the security guards at malls and recreational areas.
Nissim said that if the guards at the mall on that fateful day were armed, the situation would have been different.
“If the security guards are armed then they will serve at the same capacity as having armed police officers on site.”
“An issue of safety may arise, but why would anyone have a security guard that is a criminal or terrorist for that matter working for them in their company?” Nissim argued.
The Private Security Regulation Bill 2013 which is pending before the National Assembly seeks to introduce legislation to arm security guards as a safety measure.
Apart from the call to arm the security guards, another concern raised by the business owners was the failure by insurance companies to compensate them for their lost or destroyed property.
Business Developer of Pep Intermedius Holdings Natalie Houben gave an account of how even after being covered against terrorism; her insurer has continued to frustrate her.
“The terrorism clause was included in our cover and even after that attack when I approached our insurers they encouraged us to submit our claim for compensation only for them to withdraw.”
She read out a letter received from her insurance company saying: “We have reviewed the policy and noted an exclusion of the terrorism clause in the contract and this renders the policy inoperative if the loss was as a result of terrorist attacks and it is universally excluded in insurance contracts.”
“As we sympathise with you we are unable to assist in this matter,” it continued.
Houben urged the committee to investigate the sudden change of heart by her insurers adding that the government should ensure that they adhere to their covers as stipulated.
The Managing Director of Mimosa Pharmacy Chris Gitonga demanded answers as to who looted from his pharmacy situated next to Nakumatt Supermarket on the ground floor of the mall.
He gave an account of how drugs were lifted off the shelves during the four day siege asking who will compensate for the lost property.
“Our CCTV camera was working from the Saturday of the attack to the following Monday at 2:15pm and on it was clear that our security guard locked the pharmacy during the evacuations.”
“When we went back to clear as soon as the mall was declared a safe zone, we did our stock taking before removing anything and besides the money that was taken, drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction were missing.”
“Who or where do we go to for compensation? Who will take the blame?” Gitonga asked.