NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Mau Mau war veterans now say that the Sh340,000 to be paid to each of them as compensation by the British government is too little, although welcome.
The Secretary General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association Gitu Kahengeri says although little, it is a better as the settlement came sooner than a court process would have ended for the 5,228 litigants.
Speaking at the Hilton Hotel on Thursday afternoon after they received the statement of regret by the British government, he said that there was no amount of compensation could undo the torture they suffered.
“This money is not enough; I was jailed for seven years together with my father so Sh340,000 is nowhere near what can be paid for that detention.”
“We first went to court in 2009 and have not even started testifying in court due to many applications. If the case takes 10 years and again another 10 years in appeal, most us will not be there. The fact that the British government recognises that a wrong has been committed is still enough,” he added.
The lawyers who represented the veterans in their suit will pocket Sh786 million as legal fees from the Sh2.6 billion that has been allocated by the British government.
Kahengeri says that most of the ex-war veterans are elderly and frail and most of the money will go towards their medication.
This money is not enough; I was jailed for seven years together with my father so Sh340,000 is nowhere near what can be paid for that detention – Gitu Kahengeri
“One will ask why we have not thought collectively of establishing an income generating venture, but most of us are sick and this money will replenish our drug supplies maybe for the next 10 days,” he added amid applause from the other veterans present.
British envoy to Kenya Christian Turner although expressing regrets over the torture of the independence fighters insisted that his government will still not take liability for the actions during the struggle for independence.
Turner said that those victims who still felt that they needed to go to court and take the British government to account were free to do so.
The envoy said: “The British government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration. The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place, and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.”
“We continue to deny liability on behalf of the government and British taxpayers today for the actions of the colonial administration in respect of the claims, and indeed the courts have made no finding of liability against the government in this case,” he added.