, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – Detectives are holding a consignment of more than 3,000 car tyres worth millions of shillings that were not declared entirely, as the war on contrabands and counterfeit goods is heightened.
The owner of the consignment had only declared 1,800 tyres to authorities including to the Kenya Revenue Authority, in an outright case of tax evasion driven by impunity.
According to Director of Operations at the Directorate of Criminal investigations (DCI) Samuel Nyavengi, the Eastleigh based owner of the consignment is out on bond, as investigations continue.
“There were more tyres stashed inside than what was declared,” he said.
Other than the suspects, the Director of Operations said officers implicated in the menace will not be spared, in the ongoing crackdown.
“No one will be spared,” he asserted.
The latest consignments of contrabands have exposed the gaping loopholes at the country’s entry points, where most goods find their way in.
This is despite having officers drawn from various agencies manning the entry points.
“The Kenyan people have been betrayed and this must change,” DCI George Kinoti has vowed.
But even with latest recoveries, Kenyans are demanding for the arrest of the ‘big fish’ involved in the business.
The syndicate behind the menace is said to have networks across the board; in Government, outside the country, and within the security agencies.
According to a section of legislators drawn from both Jubilee and ODM political affiliations, some of their colleagues are involved in the illegal business.
Counterfeit goods in the country are said to be worth billions of shillings, but little goes to the Government as tax other than posing serious health risks to gullible consumers.
For instance, thousands of kilograms of sugar contaminated with lead, copper and cadmium have been recovered.
There are fears that some of the contaminated sugar is in circulation and has been attributed to rising cases of lifestyle diseases like cancer.
“It is shocking when you look at some of the things we have discovered. It is shocking what we are doing to ourselves and to the country,” the CS said when the goods offloaded from trucks were displayed to journalists on June 14 at the DCI.
On that day, detectives had seized more than 1000 bags of sugar and a mass scale packaging machine worth Sh25 million in a warehouse in Ruiru, Kiambu County.
“The level of criminality involved is mind-boggling, that there are people in our country who make money by selling goods they know for sure are poisonous,” he said.
He said the economy was already hurt, a trend that if it continues will only worsen the situation.
Already, 3 retailers have been arrested in Eastleigh and arraigned in court.
But according to a senior detective involved in the ongoing crackdown, the real sugar barons are people highly networked, some within the agencies supposed to stop the menace like the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority and police at the country entry points and so on.
The detective revealed that one is an elected influential politician in the country while another is a relative of a Central Kenya legislator.
“They will be arrested. We are narrowing down on them…” the officer assured.
Those behind the illicit trade are said to be muzzling local manufacturers and are involved in tax evasion besides exposing citizens to health risks and national security threats attributed to the black market.
So vicious is the war on contraband goods in the country that CS Matiangi has since declared that he is willing to pay the ultimate price.
“I am not under any illusion that we engaged in a very serious war. A war that could mean anything; it could mean even the lives of these officers and some of us,” Matiangi told reporters when Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss displayed tones of the sugar imported illegally from Brazil on June 14.
“It is a complex war,” the CS said. “That may not spare the detectives involved in the ongoing crackdown.”