NAIROBI, August 14 – A worker at one of the slaughterhouses that was shut down on Wednesday in Nairobi’s Dagoretti area committed suicide Thursday, as thousand of his colleagues took to the streets in protest at the closure.
Police and his colleagues said the man had appeared stressed soon after the government ordered the abattoirs closed for failing to maintain hygienic standards.
“He was stressed, he was worried on how to get the daily bread to sustain his family,” James Mwangi, one of his colleagues at the slaughterhouse said.
The deceased’s former colleague at a slaughterhouse in Dagoretti said he had spoken to him on Wednesday evening.
“He appeared too frustrated, I knew it was all about the closure of this slaughterhouse but he did not say he planned to take his own life. I was shocked to hear the sad news,” Kenneth Nderitu said.
Those who knew him said he had worked at the slaughterhouse for about 8 years.
Area divisional Police Chief Patrick Mang’oli said the man’s body was found dangling from a tree early Thursday morning.
“We do not know the reason that might have led to this. We are treating it as a suicide case,” he said.
Other slaughterhouse workers staged violent demonstrations for the better part of Thursday morning to protest the closure of the abattoirs.
They barricaded roads and lit bonfires before they were dispersed by the police, leaving a trail of destruction as others looted property from shops and stoned motorists.
Police were forced to shoot in the air and lob tear gas at the rioters.
16 others were arrested and detained for participating in the demonstration, and police said they would be charged for various offences including destruction of property, stealing and participating in an illegal assembly.
The five abattoirs closed by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) employed up to 5,000 people.
NEMA’s Director General Muusya Mwinzi said the slaughterhouses had failed to comply with environmental regulations.
Those closed had been given three months to improve hygienic conditions but failed to do so.
“What has been achieved so far does not meet our standards,” Mwinzi said on Wednesday before he ordered the closure of Nyongara, Mumu, Thiani, Dagoretti and Nyonjoro slaughterhouses.
Kang’ere Muhu, a representative of the slaughterhouses’ owners said city residents were likely to experience shortage of meat products, explaining that the abattoirs handled the slaughter of between 300 and 400 cows a day.