Court awards Sh40.9m to Kyanguli fire victims after 13-year wait

Kyanguli Secondary School in Machakos
Kyanguli Secondary School in Machakos

A High Court in Nairobi has today (Thursday) ordered the government to pay Sh40.9 million to the victims of the Kyanguli fire tragedy that took place 15 years ago

While delivering the ruling, Justice Joseph Sergon said that the school was negligent and ignored rumours that some students were planning to burn the school canteen and a dormitory.

Parents of the victims had sued the government seeking compensation and accusing it of failing to use reasonable means to prevent the Kyanguli dormitory fire.

They had sued the then headmaster David Mutiso, his deputy Stephen Kasyoka, Teachers Service Commission, the school’s board of governors and the attorney general.

On March 26, 2001, a huge fire razed a dormitory at the Kyanguli Secondary School in Machakos killing at least 67 students between the ages of 15 and 19.

The then police spokesman Peter Kimanthi told the media that the 130 boys had been sleeping in the building when the fire started.

Kimanthi added that a padlock on one of the two doors and iron bars on the windows prevented their escape through those routes during the inferno.

Two 17-year-old boys were later arrested and faced charges of murdering 67 of their schoolmates.

One of the two suspected of starting the fire sustained injuries and was then placed under police guard in a Nairobi hospital while the second boy was held in police custody.

There were 146 students in the building at the time of the fire.

Fifty-eight of the blaze victims were buried in six mass graves in a ceremony attended by former President Daniel arap Moi.

The ruling brings to an end the case that has been in court for 13 years.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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