72 Arrested after toxic sugar scandal emerged

Major crackdown

Appearing before a joint House committee investigating contraband sugar, Mr. Matiang'i said that he was not in a position to disclose the details of the 72 people arrested.

"We are dealing with very complex and international criminal investigations that straddled the borders of our country and at this stage, it will not be good to disclose details about the 72 arrests we have made," he said.

He further requested he be allowed to speak in-camera regarding the details of the investigations. In-camera is where the public and press are not allowed to observe the proceedings.

Earlier, a letter by interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho indicated that the CS was not going to answer questions by the legislators as it was a matter still under investigations.

"An open and detailed deliberation on these matters will prejudice not only the persons who are the subject of these investigations but also the investigation processes.

"It would fall short of the Bill of Rights and other Statutes of Parliament that offer guidance on how investigations should be undertaken," Kibicho’s letter read in part.

During the committee session, Mr. Matiang’i noted that apart from sugar, other products such as maize, rice, tomato ketchup etc were also contaminated.

"It is not just mercury, lead or copper. The CID report indicated that harmful substances were present in our foods. I do not know why a conclusion was made that we were only focusing on sugar," he said.

The MPs cornered the minister to confirm whether sugar in the country was laced with mercury but he refused to admit.

"I am very hesitant to commit myself to a conclusive test because our security teams are still testing some of the sugar. If the sugar is in the market it has been satisfied by KEBS it has no problem.

"Sugar that has a problem, we are holding it and tests are continuing on that so that I cannot defend sugar that is in the custody of police," he said.

Mr. Matiang'i noted that the statement he made regarding mercury was a cautionary one.

"It was a cautionary statement and I cannot rule out that some commodities have the harmful chemicals, not just sugar," he said.

The CS mentioned that the fight against contraband goods was still ongoing and the Government will be destroying goods worth Sh1.2 billion next week.

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