How KDF war hero was jailed and dismissed after being injured in Somalia

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A former Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldier who fought for the country in Somalia but was unfairly dismissed will be paid Sh30 million, a court has ruled.

Senior Private Moses Etyang joined KDF on September 1, 2008. He was then posted to the 15th Battalion Kenya Rifles and later to the 17th Kenya Rifles.

Five years later, in 2013 he was sent to Somalia to fight the Alshabaab as an infantry soldier attached to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). His one year in Somalia changed his life completely.

Everything was fine until towards the end of his mission in Somalia when a crew he was part in got an accident while carrying out a routing patrol of Afhmadow. That was sometime in 2014.

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His supervisor Major Shangata, thought that the injuries were not severe enough for him to get medical attention. The soldier only received first aid and was ordered back to the battlefield.

However after some time, he started experiencing back pains and could not walk properly. He also had severe headaches and nightmares which he reported to the doctor in the camp but nothing was done.

Unknown to him, he had as a result of the accident injured his occipital region which feeds the brain with signals for vision and colour.

Without treatment, the condition worsened into schizophrenia. The soldier was however forced to fight in the battlefield up to 2015 when his tour of Somalia ended.

Once back home, Etyang’s family deserted him as became violent for no reason.

“The petitioner had a wife and children who ran away due to his violent tendencies. The children need upkeep by their father. He is now an invalid requiring full-time care,” said Justice Jemimah Wanga while awarding the former soldier Sh30 million for unfair dismissal and being mistreated by the state.

“The taxpayers should take care of the petitioner and not his aging father as the 1st respondent failed in its duty of care towards its own serviceman,” said Justice Wanza.

According to pleadings filed in court, the former soldier was denied treatment when he requested to go to Forces Memorial Hospital after finishing his tour of Somalia.

As if that was not bad enough, KDF charged him with desertion of duty and sentenced to 42 days. When he completed his sentence he was told to return his uniform and boots before being fired.

KDF in its response to the court said that Etyang was dismissed from service after he allegedly pleaded guilty to five counts including desertion of duty. The former soldier however argued that he was not given time to explain himself during his disciplinary hearing, present witnesses or his medical report.

In the end, the judge sided with the former soldier.

“The petitioner who received the New Constitutional Medal (ME2A) and served in Amisom III in Somalia as his last mission cannot be condemned to a life of misery and indignity due to acts and omissions of the first respondent (Chief of Defence Forces). His condition was attributed to injuries sustained protecting the borders of our country and or in pursuit of the petitioner’s interests in Amisom III in Somalia,” said the judge.

According to the judge KDF had a duty to ensure that Private Etyang’s working conditions were reasonable.

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