Samson Ontiri, a sugarcane farmer from Nyabera Village in Gucha Sub-county filed a case demanding millions in compensation from Sony Sugar in December 2017.
However, unknown to many, Ontiri died on September 3, 2013 of heart disease at Tabaka Mission Hospital.
This is one of the many cases that have been filed against the miller by rogue lawyers. Ontiri’s case was filed by Matwetwe & Company Advocates demanding dues for unpaid cane delivery. Suit papers indicate that the farmer lost 63 tonnes of cane, which the company had promised to buy upon maturity.
According to reports by Daily Nation, not even a single family member is aware of the case, let alone instructing the lawyer to file such a case.
“I wish to state that the said suit CMCC 687/17 Rongo… is a fraud since my father is deceased. I on behalf of the family won’t like to be associated with the suit,” stated Moses Ontiri, Mr Ontiri’s son.
In a different case filed on July 12, 2018 by Odingo & Company Advocates, another dead farmer, Elija Mberesio Onyambu of Kawere IIB, Migori County also seeking compensation.
The farmer died on December 27, 2013, aged 74. His death was as a result of tetanus, the death certificate says.
In his case, Onyambu is demanding Ksh112 million compensation for his farm which he claims can produce 35 tonnes.
These are just two cases in over 5,000 that have been filed in various courts in the Nyanza region.
The cash strapped miller was alarmed by the number of cases, and contracted a private investigator to vet a sample of 100 cases.
“The ligation issue is a scandal of scary proportions. It’s messy, murky and convoluted, but we will get to the bottom of it,” Mr Bernard Otieno, the company’s managing director.
Nation reports that in some cases, the lawyers re-file old and settled cases in different law courts or even in the same court that handled the original suit, but under a different judge or magistrate.
“What we found is an intricate embezzlement done via pretence, filing fictitious documents and forgery in over 90 per cent of the cases,” said Mr Kimani Njuki, the CEO of Advanced Forensic Ltd, which is investigating the cases.
Currently, there are over 40 law firms filing cases against Sony, up from three in 2014.
The total claims against Sony Sugar stands at Ksh569,243,808, most of them filed between 2015 and 2016.
The syndicate even involves high ranking officials in government. An MP from Kuria claims to have delivered Ksh10 million cane but with no tonnage shown.