A court in Nairobi has nullified Kenya Airways’ suspension of its employee Gire Ali after the airlines punished him for filming a China Southern Airlines plane at the JKIA.
The court has also issued orders preventing the Office of the Director of Prosecutions from arresting Mr Ali or taking any other action against him. Through his lawyer Danstan Omari, Ali had sued his KQ for suspending him for filming the plane which landed with 239 passengers from China.
Ali, who works as the Assistant Security Agent had accused KQ of punishing him in a matter of public interest. He argues that he never contravened any law, regulations or procedures. He also told the court that there was a plan to arrest and charge him.
Lawyer Danstan Omari said that they had lined up various respondents in the case. They include Kenya Airways, Kenya Airports Authority, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, ODPP, Ministry Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defence among many others.
According to Omari, Ali’s actions ought to be lauded and he should be celebrated for awakening the Kenyan authorities from a deep slumber. He argued that the viral video sparked public and media outcry hence this forced the Government to start treating the issue of Coronavirus with concern.
Kenya Airways had earlier on defended its decision to suspend Mr Ali arguing that he had breached the safety regulations and procedures set by the KAA.
In its statement, KQ said that he would continue enjoying his rights as an employee and would be entitled to his full salary, as it continues with the investigations. Omari faulted KQ’s move to give the employee full salary arguing that their move had sinister motives because it was against the labour laws.
“The law says that if an employee is suspended legally, then they should receive half their salary,” said Omari. While suspending Ali, the airlines directed him to be available when needed by those charged with investigating the matter.
“Following a report of video recording of China Southern Airline aircraft at JKIA and circulation of the video clip widely on social media on 26 February 2020, and your alleged involvement in the matter, it has been decided that you be suspended from duty with effect from 27 February 2020 in accordance with provision of clause 16.5 of the Company Hit Policy Manual. This is to pave way for further investigations into the matter,” read part of a letter from the KQ human resource office.
“During the period of suspension, you will be required to avail [sic] yourself to the investigating team, your manager or any other person in authority as and when required. You are therefore required to remain contactable and within easy reach during the period. Also, note that the suspension will be on full salary,” continued the letter.
The Chinese plane landed in Kenya on February 26, with 239 onboard, piling up fears of the possible entry of dreadful Covid-19 into the country.
The event led to widespread criticism of Kenyan authorities who were accused of treating the matter casually and not mounting proper screening and health checks in the entry points.