Police Apologize for Mask Fine After Man Charged Ksh5k

  • A man spotted wearing a protective facemask as Nairobi County health workers fumigate City Market on March 24, 2020.
    A man spotted wearing a protective facemask as Nairobi County health workers fumigate City Market on March 24, 2020.
    File
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, April 6, made an appeal to Kenyans to wear masks at all times whenever they visit public spaces, as the nation heightened measures in the fight against the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in Kenya.

    Health CS, Mutahi Kagwe, later on, reiterated, emphasising that it was necessary to wear masks while aboard Public Service Vehicles and in supermarkets. However, on Wednesday, April 8, a message made rounds on social media sites, alleging that individuals would pay a hefty fine if spotted without masks in various parts of the country. 

    Kenyans.co.ke spoke to Frederick Mutia, who claimed to have parted with Ksh5,000. We also sought to confirm the legality of the fine and spoke to Machakos County Police Commander Karanja Muiruri in whose jurisdiction the incident was reported.

    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (front) with Ministry of Health director-general Dr. Patrick Amoth at a press briefing on April 2, 2020.
    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (front) with Ministry of Health director-general Dr. Patrick Amoth at a press briefing on April 2, 2020.
    Citizen Digital

    "Being spotted in towns without a mask is a Public Health offence. A fine of Ksh6,000 or 2 months imprisonment will be imposed on those arrested. Before then, one will be forced into 14-day quarantine at a government facility at your own cost," an excerpt of a message doing rounds on social media reads.

    A charge sheet seen by Kenyans.co.ke on Thursday, April 9, detailed that Mutia was charged on Sunday, April 5, a day before Kenyatta issued the appeal to Kenyans. In the sheet, recorded at Machakos Police Station, Mutia was accused of failing to take preventive measures and was asked to appear at a court stationed at the police station on Monday, April 6, which never materialised as Kenyatta had in Monday, April 6, initiated the movement restriction in and out of Nairobi where Mutia had returned to. 

    "I was charged Ksh 5,000 en route to work in Machakos from Nairobi. I did not have a mask," Mutia informed Kenyans.co.ke.

    Machakos Police Commandant, Karanja Muiruri confirmed the charge sheet and apologised, while affirming that no such directive had been issued.

    "At this moment we are trying to protect Kenyans and not pile misery on them. I will take stern action and let the victim come and be refunded. I am sorry on their behalf (police)," Muiruri stated, later confirming that he had spoken to his officers at the station, who offered to return the money. 

    As Kenyatta's directive takes shape, a Kenyan who sought anonymity informed Kenyans.co.ke that supermarkets were denying entry to individuals wearing masks made out of cloth. One supermarket had reportedly stipulated measures that only allowed individuals with surgical masks to enter its premises.

    The government had allowed Kenyans to wear home-made masks, with many being tailored by professional tailors retailing at Ksh 50. 

    "Is it true that they are not allowing shoppers without surgical masks in? Apparently the DIY’s and all others don’t count. They’re demanding for surgical masks for you to enter. A neighbour came to borrow one this morning because she was going shopping," the individual wondered. 

    Frederick Mutia's charge sheet dated Sunday, April 5, 2020
    Frederick Mutia's charge sheet dated Sunday, April 5, 2020
    File