THE STATESMAN INSIDER: DCI Detectives Trailing CS, MP Over Mysterious Disappearance Of Poisonous Sugar
A Cabinet Secretary and a Member of Parliament are on the radar of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over the mysterious disappearance of condemned sugar from a go-down in Thika.
The two are among a string of suspects who allegedly colluded to sell the consignment that was already declared unsafe for human consumption back in 2018.
It is two weeks since the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and officials from the DCI discovered that the consignment had disappeared.
Attempts by the DCI to trace the poisonous consignment of sugar is proving futile, with fears growing that it could already be on supermarket shelves.
DCI detectives believe that the sugar had already found a ready market even before it left the Port of Mombasa, and that influential persons were behind the dirty deal.
Citizen Digital has obtained a trail of how the 20,000 bags of poisonous sugar left Mombasa all the way to a go-down in Makongeni, Thika, and why the sugar that was condemned in 2018 may already be on the shelves in supermarkets.
A visit to Vinepack Industries in Thika where the poisonous sugar was said to have been stored found a quiet environment with only one guard manning the establishment.
This was the same premises that was raided by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in September last year with accusations of operating without a licence, producing counterfeit liquor and evading taxes.
DCI officials are in a race against time to solve the puzzle of the missing consignment of sugar from when it left Mombasa, under what condition, how it landed and where it was stored before it disappeared into thin air.
On April 12, 2023 the multi-agency team was summoned to coordinate release of the condemned sugar by KRA; it was supposed to be converted into ethanol for industrial use upon arrival in Nairobi.
On the same day, all the 20,000 bags of the condemned sugar was dispatched to Thika for distillation at Vinepack industries.
Estimations reveal that it took 8 days to process the consignment at the Port of Mombasa, dispatch the same to Thika and offload the sugar for storage.
On April 20, 2023, the consignment was received in Thika by the Nairobi-based multi-agency team where they witnessed the disarming of the cargo, removal of the seals and offloading into go-downs contracted by the distiller - Vinepack.
It is now emerging that Vinepack contracted Kings Commodities Limited in Thika to store the sugar.
According to the letter by KEBS on the process to convert the sugar into ethanol, KEBS was supposed to be present alongside NEMA officials to ensure all the sugar is converted into ethanol and not diverted to other uses.
KEBS was also to pick samples of the ethanol produced for analysis at their certified laboratories, to ensure that it is in compliance with the standards required.
On May 4, 2023 when KEBS officers, the multi-agency teams and DCI returned to the Thika-based go-down for the process of distillation to commence, the go-down was empty; the 20,000 bags of contaminated sugar had mysteriously disappeared.
It is now 14 days since the unsafe sugar was reported missing, with detectives yet to find the consignment; some of the suspended officials have recorded statements with the DCI over the sugar scandal.
In a crisis meeting held by KEBS on Thursday, a leadership shakeup was effected, with Esther Ngari appointed as Acting Managing Director for six months, while Bernard Nguyo is the new Acting Director of Quality Assurance and Inspection.