NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – The families of the five Kenyans held by the South Sudan Government on suspicion of involvement in a plot to steal USD 15 million from the Presidency say the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked for a week to ascertain the status of the detainees.
The families met with officials from the ministry on Tuesday after the issue was highlighted in the media.
They had accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of failing to intervene and ensure either the release or expeditious trial of their sons, brothers and husbands who they say have been detained by South Sudan authorities without charge for 66 days despite numerous attempts at engagement.
But even after the Tuesday meeting, the families still accused the Foreign Ministry of failing to honour their obligation to those Kenyan citizens abroad.
“They told us they can get us a good lawyer but we’d have to raise the Sh6 million to pay him,” Nicholas Nyakeri whose 27-year-old-brother Peter Mukiri is among those detained said.
His brother Nicholas Nkonge also accused the ministry of failing to ensure their loved ones were detained in humane conditions and that their families could gain access to them.
“They are being held in a military compound; we have been unable to see them. A lady who was detained with them but later released has told us they only got one meal a day without a change of clothes,” he said.
Nkonge said the five Kenyan men: Boniface and Peter Muriuki, Anthony Mwadimu and Keya and Ravi Ramesh, had been informed that they would be released after 40 days in detention.
“They were even given back their phones and sent us messages that they were coming home and pictures of what they looked like. But then the communication went dead,” he narrated.
The families have defended the men against the accusation that they were involved in a cross-border money scam saying they were simply selling phones and computers for the South Sudanese government official said to have been the mastermind.
But in the event that there is evidence linking them to the reported attempt to withdraw USD 15 million from South Sudan’s central bank by forging the Presidential seal, the families argued, their loved ones had a right to know what charges they were facing.
“Even if they are not innocent they have a universal right to know what exactly they are charged with and an expeditious hearing. Are you telling me there are no laws in South Sudan?” Nyakeri posed.
Given their lack of faith in the MFA, the families have therefore called for the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta.