A former ramp attendant with a local airline is calling on authorities to help him get justice following an accident that left him permanently disabled 22 years ago.
Jonathan Kahindi Suleiman, who used to work for the defunct Air Kenya Aviation Company Limited (rebranded Air Kenya Express after being placed under receivership), said he was slashed on the head by an aircraft propeller while on duty on June 12, 1998.
“I was on duty offloading an aircraft Reg 5YAAB when I was slashed on the head by a rotating propeller and sustained multiple frontal skull fractures, a large cut across my head and lost consciousness for two weeks,” he said in an interview.
The father of nine children said the company paid him a mere Ksh 140,400 as compensation in 2000 before sacking him three years later, leaving him with no means of livelihood since he is unable to work following the accident.
Jonathan told journalists at his home in Mabirikani in the outskirts of Malindi Town that his employer forced him to sign a declaration that what he had received was the final payment and that neither he nor any other party would ever make any other claim against the company.
“I signed the declaration under duress and at a time when I was not mentally alright to accept such a pittance, but my quest to get my rightful dues has not been successful these 22, years,” he said.
He said after the accident, he was rushed to the then Galana Hospital (Now Meridian Hospital) in Malindi town where he received First Aid before being taken by ambulance to the Aga Khan Hospital where he stayed at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for two weeks before being transferred to the general ward, where he stayed till July 13, 1998.
He said the accident had left his life with deep scars, both physically and emotionally, and asked the authorities to come to his aid. Apart from the scars on the head, Jonathan has many other scars on the chest and neck.
He has also developed a condition of intermittent convulsion as if he is epileptic, while his wife fled the home afterlife became unbearable, leaving Jonathan with their nine children.
Jonathan’s quest for justice ran into headwinds after being abandoned by a lawyer who represented him at the Malindi Chief Magistrate’s court. The company was also placed under receivership as the case was going on, leading to another lawyer to stop continuing with the case.
In court documents carefully kept over the years, Jonathan sued his former employer accusing the company of failing to take all precautions to ensure all employees were working in a safe and secure environment.
He averred that the accident was occasioned to him due to negligence and/or carelessness of the company, its agents, servants and/or employee, factors he said held the defendant vicariously liable in negligence.
He said the company failed to take any adequate precaution for his life and exposed him to a risk of damages which the company knew or ought to have known.
Jonathan said his employer had also failed to provide him with any adequate supervision or any warning to the damages inherent in the said work and that it had failed to provide and maintain a safe system of working in the site.
He prayed that the court may grant him general and special damages as well as the cost of the suit plus interest on the same charged at court rates.
In its defence, the company appeared to deny that the accident took place and absolved itself from blame, saying if at all the accident occurred, it was wholly caused or substantially contributed by Jonathan’s own negligence.