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Over 10 to testify in Coca Cola soda case

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Thursday October 24 2019
Coca-Cola soda at a supermarket.

Coca-Cola soda at a supermarket. At least 10 witnesses have been summoned to appear before the Busia High Court next month to testify in a case in which 58 residents sued giant beverage manufacturer, Coca-Cola, of selling them contaminated drinks nine years ago. PHOTO | FILE | NATION EMDIA GROUP

At least 10 witnesses have been summoned to appear before the Busia High Court next month to testify in a case in which 58 residents sued giant beverage manufacturer, Coca-Cola, of selling them contaminated drinks nine years ago.

A letter dated October 15, 2019, written and signed by Deputy High Court Registrar Phoebe Kulecho, says they must appear in person on November 18, warning of stem action against those who don’t.

Those expected to testify include Mr Kepha Ombacho, former Director of Public Health (now in charge of Environmental Health) Mr JK Kibath from the Government Chemist, and Mr Antony Irungu from Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

COURT ORDER

“Whereas your attendance is required to give evidence as per Court Order in the above suit, you are hereby required personally to appear before this court on the 18 November 2019 in the forenoon to produce laboratory analysis results vide Ref No. MPHS/DC/125 dated 30 July 2012 and to be present at all times until your presence is dispensed with by the court,” the letter said.

Also summoned are Mr Martin Nyakiano, Mr Felix Omondi, Ms Catherine Were, Mr Seth Ngeso from Kebs, Mr Emmanuel Luvai (former District Public Health Officer) and Mr Wilson Kosgey.

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The case moved to court after the litigants rejected Sh45,000 Coca Cola offered them in an out-of-court settlement.

Three of the litigants, Mr Stephen Serulo, Mr Zablon Barasa and Mr Richard Sikudi from Funyula, sued the Atlanta-based company, its Africa subsidiaries (Coca Cola Central, East and West) and local agent Equator Bottlers Limited on behalf of the other 55.

ABDOMINAL PAINS

They complained said they bought soda separately on November 21, 2013, and that more than 30 people who took the drinks were from Funyula Constituency, while others came from other parts of Busia County.

Their claim that the soda was contaminated was corroborated by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) Quality Assurance Officer Jared Omondi.

A report from the office of medical superintendent at the Busia County Referral Hospital dated February 22, 2016, revealed that Mr Serulo experienced an acute onset of abdominal pains, vomiting and had general body malaise after taking the drinks.