UK retail stores, Sainsbury and Lidl, have temporarily suspended supplies from Kakuzi following the ongoing investigation over allegations of human rights abuse. News of the pull out come barely a week after Tesco, suspended supplies from the company.
A Sainsbury email to Business Daily says that the company suspended orders until the issues are addressed.
“Sainsbury’s will not accept further produce from Kakuzi until we are satisfied that the robust action plan in place addresses the issues that have been raised,” says Sophie Praill, Sainsbury’s Corporate and Financial Communications Manager.
Lidl communicated a similar stance saying “Following the most recent allegations, we have temporarily suspended our supply from the grower while further investigations are undertaken.”
Allegations Against Kakuzi and their Response
Kakuzi is facing allegations of systemic human rights abuses, explicitly accusing its guards of perpetrating violence against residents in its plantations. According to an October 11th report by Sunday Times, the allegations include violent attacks on people walking on paths through Kakuzi land, the rape of 10 women, and the case of a young man who died after being allegedly accosted by the company’s guards for stealing avocadoes on his way home across the property.
The allegations are directed towards Kakuzi’s parent company Camellia, a UK listed firm that owns 50.7% of the firm.
In response to inquiries by The Kenyan Wallstreet, Kakuzi says it subjected itself to an independent third-party audit by the Ethical Trade Services Africa under the direction of the UK Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and implemented their recommendations, except one regarding community baraza which stalled because of COVID-19.
With regards to the death of the young man, Kakuzi says that criminal investigations are still ongoing and that, “the civil matter the Company settled with the legal representative of the young man as appointed by the Kenyan Courts.”
“We welcome the police investigation as it will not only bring justice to any claimant but it will also identify the alleged perpetrators so they can be brought before a Court. The Court case in the UK will do little to hold these preparators to account,” said the company, in closing.