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At least six Mombasa MCAs and staff members were intercepted by the officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as soon as they had toured the Coca-Cola manufacturing plant at Kikambala to investigate allegations of contaminated water from the beverage factory.
The MCAs and some staff members had travelled in one bus and were searched by the officers on suspicion of committing a crime.
They were then directed to the EACC regional offices in Mombasa where they recorded statements.
On Monday,a source with a PR company that handles a Coca-Cola account told the Nation, in confidence because of the sensitivity of the matter, that there was no way the giant beverage manufacturer could have been engaged in appropriate behaviour.
He added that the best person to comment on the matter would have been the managing director of Coast Bottlers, whose phone was off.
He explained that Coast Bottlers invited the MCAs to the plant to familiarise themselves with its operations.
The MCAs were investigating allegations that some bottles of Dasani water had been found to contain foreign material.
The MCAs, who are members of the Health Committee and their chairman, Mr Kibwana Swaleh, were released after recording statements.
The acting EACC Deputy Director Lower Coast Region, Mr Simon Cherpka, said they had received intelligence that a crime was underway.
‘Our officers acted quickly and intercepted the suspects,’ he said.
Speaking at the EACC offices in Mombasa County, Mr Cherpka refused to give details about the arrest saying investigations were in the initial stages.
‘We do not want to indulge more to avoid jeopardising investigations. We are still at the initial stages and the allegations might be true or false,’ he added.
Mr Cherpka said they had recorded statements from the MCAs, who were persons of interest.
However, he said the members of the Health Committee had not been arrested but had accompanied EACC officers to the regional offices to record statements after their interception.
He said the investigations would include summoning everyone, including Coast Bottlers CEO Ibrahim Al Khoury.
Defending the MCAs, the committee chairman said the search found one of the MCAs in possession of Sh70, 000, which was his own, and a staff member with Sh45, 000 he said ‘belongs to a table banking chama)”.
According to a source, the Coca-Cola team had earlier on appeared before the House team.
The source intimated that a disgruntled MCA had tipped off the EACC team.
‘We went to investigate the case for the first time so that we can compile a report and table it at the assembly. We did not receive any bribes. We were waiting for a report from South Africa so that we could look at the biological effect of the contaminated water,’ Mr Swaleh said.
‘The money recovered belonged to one of our staff members and some of the cash belonged to one of the MCAs. We will not be cowed by anything, we will continue with our investigations as the health committee, which is within our mandate until we are sure the water is safe for drinking,’ he said.
He said the assembly would share its report with the residents, adding that they had nothing to hide.
He termed the arrest as an embarrassment and politically-motivated to hinder their investigations since Coca-Cola in an international company.
‘Those politicians doing this to us, your days are numbered. This is a political game to tarnish our numbers,’ he added.
Copyright 2016 actualité africaine