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Delmonte fires 250 security guards and replaces them with G4S

In a move to redeem its image and restore public confidence, pineapple fruit processor Delmonte Kenya Ltd has sacked its 250 security guards who have increasingly been accused of violation of human rights.

The Company’s Acting Deputy Managing Director Wayne Cook while defending the move said their decision has been informed by the high rate at which thieves have been stealing pineapples at their farms, with the guards doing little to prevent the criminal activity.

In a statement to the media, Cook said there has been a well-coordinated criminal operation targeting their plantations where gangs of youths armed with machetes have been invading their fields and stealing large quantities of pineapples.

He said a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) recommendation endorsed outsourcing security personnel as part of best practices who can effectively deal with pineapple thieves and maintain good relationships with the locals.

“Given the company’s reputation and alignment with the HRIA findings, Delmonte Kenya has engaged G4S Kenya to oversee security operations. G4S is well regarded in providing top security due to its expertise in the security fields,” the statement read.

From their agreement, he said, G4S will deploy 270 security personnel who have undergone rigorous training on dealing with pineapple thieves and who can better relate with the surrounding community.

The sacked guards on Monday evening staged protests outside the company’s canary offices in Thika accusing the company of sacking them without notice.

Led by Willy Zakayo, former Chief shop steward, they called on the government to intervene and ensure they get justice.

Delmonte Company has in the recent past been battling with allegations of its guards beating to death and other times maiming people who trespass into their farms to steal pineapples and in some instances dump the bodies into dams in the farms.

Local and international Human rights groups have been at loggerheads with the company and have filed cases in court over the alleged abuses.

However, the company never maintained its innocence, and instead blamed pineapple thieves for unleashing terror on their unarmed guards.

The company has 6,500 workers employed directly and 28,000 others who are indirectly employed by the firm.

By Muoki Charles

 

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