, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – The High Court has awarded Sh40 million to the parents of 67 students of Kyanguli Secondary School who perished in an arson attack 15 years ago.
Justice Joseph Sergon ordered the government to compensate the families after finding that the school was largely to blame for what happened.
The court found the headteacher David Mutiso Kiilu and his deputy Stephen Kasyoka liable for failing to act on information that students were planning to torch the school canteen and a dormitory.
“The respondents are largely to blame for the incident that occurred at the school as they had information of students unrest and what they planning to do,” he ruled.
The parents had sued the government for compensation over the deadly fire tragedy.
According to the judge, the respondents failed to use reasonable means to prevent the fire incident.
The aggrieved parents and guardians had also named the TSC, the Board of Governors of Kyanguli Mixed Secondary and the AG as respondents in the compensation case.
The parents claimed that there was failure to fit, provide and secure fire-fighting equipment for the school and also adequate and appropriate access, emergency and exit points in the dormitories.
During the hearing of the petition, Solomon Muteti, a former teacher in the school, testified there were rumors that the smell of petrol was stronger near the dormitory section but the administration, with the help of prefects, searched without success.
The deceased students were aged between 14 and 20 years and were in all Form 4.
In 2002, a Magistrate’s Court found Kiilu, and Kasyoka, guilty of failing to prevent a felony by not using reasonable means that were at their disposal to prevent the arson.
Events that culminated in the tragic fire had started showing on March 23, 2001 when leaflets asking the students to boycott the assembly, were posted in certain places in the school compound.