Nairobi News

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Kenyan in the UK charged with selling Covid-19 ‘medication’

A Kenyan based in the United Kingdom has been arraigned in a London court accused of selling “plague protection kits” as a bogus cure for Covid-19.

Irungu Wiseman, 46, who is said to hold the title Bishop Climnate, was charged with fraud and unfair trading offences after allegedly offering the package, containing a small bottle of oil and piece of red yarn, for Sh13,500 (£91).

Irungu, who is the head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell south London, is said to have marketed the mixture of cedarwood and hyssop to protect users from coronavirus.

The claims are said to have been made “in person, online, in instructional videos and through testimonial videos”.

“It is by faith that you can be saved from the Coronavirus pandemic by covering yourself with the Divine Plague Protection Oil and wearing the Scarlet Yarn on your body,” the ministry says on its website.

It adds, “That is why I want to encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to get your Divine Plague Protection Kit today!”

In bold red capital letters, the post says, “Use the plague protection oil for protection from coronavirus.”

In a post published on March 21, Irungu claimed he had been “instructed” by the Lord to prepare an oil “mixed with cedarwood, hyssop, and prayer” to fight the pandemic.

“As you use this oil, along with a special scarlet yarn, every coronavirus and any other deadly thing will pass over you,” he said.

The bishop also said the products had “worked before” and would work again, despite providing no scientific or medical evidence for the claim.

The clergyman pleaded not guilty to a single count of fraud and two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations between March 23 and 24.

The charge sheet read that the accused person claimed the concoction advertised as “Divine Cleansing Oil” or “Divine Plague Prevention Kit” could be used to treat, prevent, protect against or cure Covid-19. He is alleged to have made the claims in person, online, instructional videos, and through testimonial videos.

Representing Southwark Council, prosecutor Ryan Thompson said claims were made that the oil had cured at least 10 people in phone calls to the church during the investigation.

He said the charges involved selling a fake cure for Covid-19, adding that there was a risk of death and harm to persons who bought the oil believing it would help save them.

Defense attorney Maeve Thornton said the case involved the freedom to practice religion.

The case was sent to Inner London Crown Court where Irungu is expected to appear on September 13.